Just Express Your Feelings

Before I walked into the Tate Modern for the first time, I had never heard of Graham Sutherland. He was a completely new painter to me, although his works do seem to have a Baconesque quality to them. Therefore, I thought I had a fresh perspective on his stuff, fresh eyes and mind to look at what he made and offer a natural reaction to them. The trouble is, the paintings are not exactly what you’d call fresh.

Source: Wikipedia

The painting above is named Head III (1953) and it seems to depict a head of some sort. Or perhaps it is a picture of a sculpture, probably in metal, situated in what seems to be a barn. The barn reminds me of the southern states of the US and, naturally, serial killers who operate there in an Ed Geinish way. The scraggly metal is a strange choice of material, but if you are indeed a serial killer bent on making portraits of ET crossbred with Alien I suppose it makes sense.

Source: Wikipedia

And here’s Green Tree Form: Interior of Woods (1940), a fallen tree covered with moss and abstracted into something that resembles one of those strange creatures like the hallucigenia I once read about in a book by Stephen Jay Gould. Obviously, it is an injured hallucigenia if it is one, having lost many of its spikes or tentacles battling some ancient Paleozoic sea cucumber. Oh yes, and the colors are awesome!

Source: Wikipedia

Finally, this is Hydrant II (1954) and I like it because it has many nice shades of blue and something that resembles a mechanical device.

In fact, writing out a gut reaction does not really work. I don’t really know why these look so great and why I think they are great works. Sure, Hydrant made me giggle because for some reason it gave me the idea that I was looking through the eyes of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, delivering presents and setting my eyes on a large Christmas-tree-shaped bong in the living room of some people who’ve been nice all year round. That’s clumsy, but that’s pretty much what a mind that hasn’t been spoiled with information or insight produces. Had I not the patience to read up on Sutherland’s stuff I, and presumably anyone been made to express “just what you feel and comes to mind” when confronted with these works, would just go inanely on and on and on and on . . .

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