Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Lucien Freud exhibition


I am still playing the role of cheerful little Miss La Creevy in Nicholas Nickleby, the good soul who makes herself of use to people instead of sleeping with them, and keeps her own counsel, because she has to. Not the way I envisaged myself in middle-age. To think I once saw myself growing up to be a kind of Eleonora Duse.

On Monday I went with two friends, Eve and Nigel, to the Freud exhibition at the NPG.
I was struck by how different the crowd were from the people at the Hockney the week before. Those coach loads of people, mainly well dressed women, were all the type who like art the way they like TV. It has to some how makes them feel good, like the Antiques Road Show and “Downton.” Nothing political or edgy please!
The people at the Freud were real art lovers, clued up, working very hard as they walked slowly round, and almost completely silent, as studious as if they had to face a viva-voce on the exhibition as soon as they’d seen it.
I think Eve and I were the only people talking and even at times laughing. Freud’s work is magnificent in many ways, masterly paint work, wonderful marks, but his perspective is sometimes odd, floors and beds shooting out towards the viewer and Eve noticed this about the female genitals.
“They are in the wrong place,” she exclaimed, pointing out that in correct perspective from where we were, they would have been entirely vaginated, but he had painted them exposed. They often looked like floating raw shell-fish.
What was the matter with the man? I wish I knew more detail about what happened with his mother.
In a recent TV documentary, his friend David Hockney contributed a terrible clich├ęd piece, all “ee-by-gum, ekky thump, ee were a right lad that one, very shy but he loved the ladies.”
There was no love of the ladies on show, unless ploughing and furrowing is love.

It was a great exhibition I must say, relating some of the story of his life, as he wished. He wanted his work to convey his feelings and worked hard to achieve that. One painting of himself and Lady Caroline Blackwood in Paris, is like a short story, a terrible tale of love turning to dust and ashes, or two spoilt people driving each other crazy.
As I walked around I amused myself by trying to imagine Freud, hawkish, ruthless, atomised, unyielding, totally preoccupied by his art, father of at least 15 children while insisting that he was “no family man,” as a woman. It wouldn’t work would it – no woman could ever take so much from life and be rewarded the way he was.

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