I visited the current Watercolour exhibition at the Tate Britain this weekend. Undoubtedly one of the best of the year, if you are in London, I urge you to visit it before it ends in August.
The most interesting feature of this large exhibition is that as it focuses on a medium – water-based paint – it encompasses a plethora of art movements, styles and subjects over 800 years of British art, from portraiture to landscape, Young British Artists to abstract art.
Who would have known, for instance, that the technique was first used for its precision in military maps and then scientific drawings of flora?
As I saw this painting by genius Watercolourist J.M.W.Turner, I stood captivated. Only later on did I realise it had been chosen for the official exhibition poster, its subliminal effect having already invaded my mind, and the translucence of its subdued pastels attracted my eye at first glance.
Through 8 rooms, the technique is explored in real debt and your pre-conceptions will be challenged – in fact with many of these pieces, you wouldn’t know they were watercolour.
The diversity of artists who use the medium is astonishing, including Charles Rennie Mackintosh, J.M.W.Turner, Tracey Emin, Anish Kapoor, Thomas Girtin, so whatever your taste, you will find something you like.
Exhibition on at Tate Britain, 16 February – 21 August 2011. Tickets are £12.70, £10.90 concessions.
Picture credit: J.M.W. Turner, The Blue Rigi, 1842.