Beyond Caravaggio, National Gallery

‘Beyond Caravaggio’ is the first major exhibition in the UK to explore the influence of Caravaggio on the art of his contemporaries and followers. I went along last week for a sneak preview of the show.

Beyond Caravaggio

After the unveiling of Caravaggio’s first public commission in 1600, artists from across Europe flocked to Rome to see his work. Seduced by the pictorial and narrative power of his paintings, many went on to imitate their naturalism and dramatic lighting effects.

Paintings by Caravaggio and his followers were highly sought after in the decades following his untimely death at the age of just 39. By the mid-17th century, however, the Caravaggesque style had fallen out of favour and it would take almost three hundred years for Caravaggio’s reputation to be restored and for his artistic accomplishments to be fully recognised.

Beyond Caravaggio

Bringing together exceptional works by Caravaggio and the Italian, French, Flemish, Dutch, and Spanish artists he inspired, ‘Beyond Caravaggio’ examines the international artistic phenomenon known as Caravaggism.

The exhibition continues until 15 January 2017, book tickets here.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Maps and the 20th Century

Maps and the 20th Century at the British Library is an educational and aesthetic wonder – the history of the century is told so eloquently and convincingly through its maps.


Here we have maps as paintings and paintings as maps, maps that tell the future and mourn the past, maps that charm: the post-traumatic 1918 map of Fairyland, and maps that might offend: all that hubristic pink in the possessions of the British Empire.

The maps of conflict are among the most extraordinary: a 1914 map showing countries as animals biting and clawing at one another, or a minutely detailed Soviet map of poor little Brighton hinting at some nefarious intention.

Scale is obviously key in mapping and there is such poetry in the minor becoming major and vice versa: a little globe not of the earth but the moon, or Jeremy Wood’s GPS autobiography, a spidery white line documenting all his movements around London over the past sixteen years.

Exhibition continues until 1 March 2017, more information here.

Written by Chris Kenny.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: A Time And A Place… For Everything

time and a place

Last Tuesday evening I found myself struggling up a packed staircase to a busy selection of rooms at the top of L’Escargot, one of the most lavish and well known restaurants in Soho, to spy a selection of photos depicting eccentrics, transvestites and day-to-day scenes from this storied area of London. The event was the opening of A Time and a Place… For Everything, an exhibition which showcases three amateur photographers who have each, in their own way, been capturing Soho life for the last 40 plus years.

Robert Stallard’s photographs date from the 1970s and depict local Soho streets and daily life in the area, aiming to show its unique character attempting to survive development. This aim is just as relevant now as when the photographs were originally taken.

Strangeways shows a series of photos dating from 2013 onwards, the work focuses on the human condition and his graphic images are unflinching in the face of taboo providing a raw and voyeuristic look at the subjects.

Damien Frost’s photographs have a more measured and posed look to them. They are taken from his ‘A Photo a Day’ series, capturing a unique sitter in a portrait daily over the period of one year. The works in the exhibition show a range of characters on the fringes of mainstream society, appearing strong and dignified in their chosen environment, Soho.

The images from all three photographers appear completely at home on the walls of L’Escargot, which is a testament to their ability to capture the ‘spirit of Soho’, as well as to the curator’s clever selection. At first, I was not sure which photographs were included in the show and which were on permanent display. Combined with a buzzing crowd of people, cabaret-style entertainment, and a tailored array of cocktails, the event created what I thought to be an authentic Soho experience. I did wonder how well the photographs would fair in a less appropriate environment, however. I found some of Stallard’s images lacking in compositional interest and Strangeways relies very heavily on shock tactics, creating some photographs that lack depth in my opinion.

My final thoughts on the event and the exhibition are mainly positive, however. The space and the photographs work well together and the opening fizzed with Soho spirit, resulting in a very enjoyable evening.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Gabriel Kenny-Ryder.