At Towner: Towards Night

Peter Doig's
Peter Doig’s “Echo Lake”. Loaned by Tate to Towner for this exhibition. Details here:

The first work you see is Julian Opie’s View of Moon over Manatsuru Peninsula. It moves like those keyrings you see: here a tiger sitting normally, turn it and here’s a tiger roaring at you. But in this case it is city lights that glimmer and move across unseen, dark water. It is a bold work – beautiful in its simplicity, more intelligent than it first appears, drawing you in to investigate what you can and cannot see.

It’s a statement work for this exhibition of works covering all things twilight to midnight and beyond that has been expertly curated by artist Tom Hammick.  Across five rooms titled “Evening Light”, “Metaphorical Landscapes”, “Contemporary Angst and Journey into Night”, “City and Revelry” and “Dreams, Insomnia and Moonlight” works spanning some 250 years address the human condition after dark.  Loans have been intelligently sought and the calibre of artist on display is mightily impressive. Constable, Turner, Chagall and Munch lend their interpretations alongside some compelling modern works.

I’ll pick a few out. Susie Hamilton’s Blue Petrol Station does what it says on the tin. But in its few, blurred brush strokes it captures the emotion you feel as that ball of light and spilling shadow appears in front of you on the road ahead.  Emil Nolde’s The Sea takes an almost Turner-esque seascape and drains it of the last of the light – the sun reduced to a red idea beneath the final waves; the sea terrifying and unknown under darkened skies. The suburban night is shown in the voyeuristic gaze of TV Room at Night of Danny Markey and House by Humphrey Ocean. The narrative of Eileen Cooper’s charcoal work Night Gardener captures the idea of nighttime as a private space. And Peter Doig’s Echo Lake (above) takes a still from Friday the 13th and makes a work that speaks of unknowable action and loneliness.

I could have picked others out. There really is so much to see here. We end with the emerging light of Mark Wright’s Afterglow and, from there, return to the world of the gallery and daytime.  But the works seen here stay with you, waiting for the next time you return to the darkness.



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