Sunday, 19 October 2014

Exhibitions: Sotheby's and Paula Rego: The Last King

October is perhaps the busiest month of the art calendar in London. There is so much to see from unknown artist's open studios across a variety of boroughs, to galleries putting on special shows to celebrate Black History Month, or to coincide with, and hopefully grab a slice of the action that the mighty mother of all art fairs - Frieze, (which takes place in Regent's Park until Sunday), brings when major buyers and collectors descend on the city ready to spend, spend, spend! I love it, as it is an excuse to get away from my desk, and an opportunity to see what other artists are doing and get some inspiration for my own work.

I started my art tour by taking myself on a trip to Sotheby's auction house to see the  much hyped Giacometti sculpture Chariot, one of an edition of five completed in 1950 which is expected to break records by selling for over $100 million when it is put up for auction next month in New York. The auction houses are a great place to see art pieces which are usually held in private collections and out of the public eye, and it is truly mind-boggling when you see the estimates (prices they expect to reach at auction), which are put on certain pieces. 

There were some beautiful pieces on display such as Tete, Modigliani's limestone bust, as well as Still Life Vase With Daisies and Poppies, a Van Gogh painting also expected to sell for a high price as it is the first time in several years that one of his important pieces has come onto the market.

There was also a good display of Warhol prints. One early print of Liz Taylor (similar to the one pictured above), is again expected to command a high price when it comes under the hammer next month. It is equally as interesting to watch the bidders and potential buyers who can afford to bid for these works and eavesdrop on snippets of their conversations. I'm eager to see what prices these works achieve at auction next month. 

Head spinning with trying to count all the zeros these works are expected to fetch, I left and took a short walk to the Marlborough gallery to see Paula Rego: The Last King of Portugal and other Stories. Having been an illustrator I can appreciate the draughtsmanship in her pastel paintings and also the reliance on a narrative thread that ties the images together. These new works are still peopled by strong matriarchal figures who appear to dominate smaller men. Her working style seems to have gotten looser and sketchier in finish but there is still that great use of colour and mark-making.

Paula Rego: The Last King of Portugal and Other Stories
Marlborough Fine Art
until October 25th