THE MALL GALLERIES, LONDON
The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition
|White Flowers 1, 74 x 94cm, Pastel, Bess Avery|
London's art world is full of talk about flowers at the moment. Wander into the Royal Academy's front courtyard at opening time any morning and the queue may well be round the block. Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse is a blockbuster exhibition of more than 120 works, tracing the emergence of the modern garden during a period of great social change and innovation in the arts. Some of the most important Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Avant-Garde artists of the early twentieth century explore this theme.
Monet, arguably the most important painter of gardens in the history of art, once said he owed his painting “to flowers”. And here in the Mall Galleries, which host the Pastel Society's Annual Exhibition, is Bess Avery 's work, which also pays tribute to flowers, which are limpid, cool, delicate, slim, perky. Lots of space to breathe, lots of firm stalks which know exactly what their vocation in life is: to present those beautiful heads in as charming a way as possible.
In contrast to the Royal Academy's exhibition, where flowers grow in gardens which are seen as places of solace, escape and isolation, the colour and vitality of Bess Avery's flowers are made irresistible against a cool pale empty background. No wind, no rain, no weather, no people. Just stillness and peace.