Iain Gale on exhibitions
Friday 30 August 1996
That it was not all one-sided is reflected in the show's title, "Two- Way Traffic". Principally, though, the exhibition focuses on the pale tonalities of Colin Gill, WT Monnington, William Coldstream and Winifred Knights. The debt of everyone to Piero della Francesca and Botticelli is immediately evident, particularly in Gill's monumental 1920s Allegory L'Allegro, an unabashedly Bohemian, John-esque fete-champetre.
Other themes include Sickert's fascination with Venice and Nevinson's flirtation with Futurism, while a number of artists - Roger Fry, Edward Wadsworth and Edward Bawden among them - appear to have been included for the most tenuous of reasons, or merely by virtue of the fact that they happen to have painted an Italian scene. The range is also too over- ambitious, and it is a hard task to attempt to explain such diverse topics as the impact of British Post-lmpressionism on Italy, the reception of Italian modernism in Britain during the 1920s and the Situationist preoccupations of Ralph Rumney in a 40-page catalogue.
Nevertheless, this is an interesting show which, had it been given a little more funding and a Tate-sized catalogue, would have made a substantial exhibition. As it is, it is still worth visiting, if only for the chance to wallow in the rarely seen langour of Gill and Monnington, each of whom is long overdue for individual reappraisal.
Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. (01392 265858) to 14 Sept
Left: detail from Gill's 'Allegory L'Allegro'
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