Sunday, 26 October 2014

Self: Bacon Hirst Koons Picasso at Ordovas

This a very small but well formed show consisting of just five pieces of art, and is quite timely with this current craze for selfies. It is always fascinating to see how artist choose to depict themselves and the media in which they choose to express this. On display is the notorious Damien Hirst photograph posing with a severed head in an anatomy museum. it could be interpreted as him literally looking death in the face and laughing. Hirst explains that he was absolutely terrified at the time and this was his way of coming to terms with his own mortality. Death, and medication to prolong life have been themes which were to become a constant in his work ever since. It's a very powerful image.

Self Portrait R., 2008, a series of x-rays above continues Hirst's medical theme.

I really liked the Jeff Koons self-portrait marble bust sitting on those jagged crystalline structures which reminded me of Victorian marble sculptures. There was something very narcissistic, but also meditative about it. It is perfectly and beautifully carved and I liked the way elements of the marble glistened as they caught the light.

The two stand outs in the exhibition though, are the Damien Hirst owned portrait of Francis Bacon and a stunning Picasso preliminary sketch for his 1901 self-portrait Yo-Picasso. It is funny that Bacon loathed his own face and wasn't what most would identify with as being "attractive" in a traditional sense. He still manages to make something that I regard as unique though with his painted self-portraits. The colours and textures/mark-making combine to create a portrait that is beautiful on canvas at least.

It is the first time that the Picasso drawing has ever been exhibited and it is rather wonderful. I was entranced by the painting Yo-Picasso at the Courtauld's Becoming Picasso 1901 show from last year which I wrote about here, and I was similarly entranced by this drawing. It is beautifully sketched with a series of flowing lines about the arms and body, and I like the way he has actually left the face really sparse in comparison with just a few marks to describe the eyes and facial features. I am really fired up to go and see the Rembrandt Late Works show at the National Gallery now to see his self-portraits in comparison to these.

Self: Bacon Hirst Koons Picasso
25 Saville Row
London W1
until 13th December