‘Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists’ @ NGV

24 02 2013

When I studied Art in high school – only up to grade 10, I had to choose between advanced maths and art for grades 11 & 12, it wasn’t permitted to do both; it was an outrage I tell you, and broke my heart, but I digress – I was particularly attracted to Impressionism.

So it was quite a joy to visit ‘Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists‘ at the National Gallery of Victoria. Even more reason to make me happy was that it was the first time I’ve been to the NGV for over a year or more.

It was refreshing to see artists other than the most well-known of the movement: Georges Seurat, Camille Pissarro and Paul Signac. Though of course their works are amazing. Maximillian Luce and Henri-Edmond Cross were revelations to me.

My favourites of the exhibition were many. Naturally photography was not permitted (this is not a free exhibition), so I will link to the website images.

An excellent quote was on one of the walls: “The belief that the Neo-Impressionists are painters who cover their canvases with multi-colour little dots is a very widespread error … the Neo-Impressionist does not dot, he divides.” Paul Signac

A few observations as I walked around the two rooms of artworks:

  • The lithographs were a surprise, their washed out colours so beautiful and muted.
  • The term ‘Divisionism‘ was also new to me.
  • Pointellism must in a way constrain the ability for an artist to differentiate their work; as the brushstrokes are similar to others using the method; though I imagine they can be individualistic about the size of their dots, the colour palette, the degree of realism and definitions … so maybe it’s not such a limitation.
  • I noticed that there was no audio-tour but that many of the images had those little pixel boxes for smart phones; as you can tell by the simple fact I don’t know what they’re called that I have an old-fashioned phone device, so was unable to unlock these little extra snippets of knowledge. I thought this was a bit ‘exclusionist’, and would have liked the option of an audio-tour. Though that said, I recognise this is probably pretty great for international visitors as maybe it would show up in their native language – yes?

I enjoyed the visit, it was wonderful to feel well enough to wander about an exhibition for nearly an hour and fill the visual-image-well; but by the end was suffering a little of pastel and pixel overload.

Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists‘ is at NGV until 17th March 2013.

Update (25th February): it was remiss of me not to mention that this exhibition has a lot of little tips for children – I thought these were especially thoughtful and engaging.

Others have reviewed the exhibition: Hannah Duke, Hannah Duke for Melbourne Pulse, Catharine of Pondering ArtPeter Madden for Kryztoff, Howard of Extemporanea.


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