Life at the end of my lane, my pastoral patch with it's meadow grazing milkers grows less tranquil by the day. The growing clamour beyond the orchards and pastures is now difficult to ignore. The boil that is Brexit is reaching it's lancing head. " How can a poor man stand such times and live". They are gathered on the distant horizon, Farage and his Falangists, Johnson's Jingoists and Rees Mogg and his Mosleyites, all intent on creating a freebooting, carpetbagging Brexit, poor Britain, desperate and sinking and where to look for an image to conjure the moment. It takes an overwrought johnny foreigner to provide that perfect, all encapsulating vision.
'The Raft of the Medusa', the young Gericault's masterpiece, painted in 1818 a hundred years before the present calamity it so perfectly mirrors. It depicts an historic disaster, 147 survivors of a terrible sinking, adrift and clinging to a hurriedly constructed raft. Fifteen were rescued, the remainder perished. A great disaster and a national scandal ensued when the blame was attributed to the poor captaincy of the sunk vessel. Ring any bells! This French masterpiece won't cause the Brexiteers to blink, you won't find a print of this hanging on the walls of Johnson Villas. Closer to home of course you could reference the work of a truly British genius, Turner. His greatest work 'The Fighting Temeraire', a celebrated gunship that had fought at Trafalgar is being towed away to the breakers by an ugly little tug boat. One suspects that the consuming poignancy of this great image would not penetrate the rhino hide of the bigoted right.
I would go to an old friend for my prophetic viewing, James Pryde. The Scottish artist conjures perfectly for me the depressed, troubled and gloomy Brexit Britain steeped in it's dilemma's and moral decay. Pryde is often dismissed as a 'one trick painter' but it's a classy trick. His fantastic interiors and cityscapes are filled with uncertainty, tiny figures dwarfed in ominous murky interiors or diminished by towering buildings in varying states of disrepair and collapse. The conjured landscapes are not ones where optimism thrives, paintings for our times I would suggest.
AGED AND AWKWARD