Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Current reading awakens memories

Natalia Goncharova: Three Young Women (image from here)
These days art exhibition catalogues seem to dominate my serious reading.  At present it's Natalia Goncharova - an exhibition on at Tate Modern.
I first encountered this artist in a postcard of the above image.  When I started working in London in the early 1970s I was a frequent visitor to museums and galleries where there was a wide range of postcards of the collections available.  Not having the means to purchase magazines and books in those days, I did binge on postcards which I would stick up on my walls at work.  The above was one of those, but I did not know anything about the artist.
Natalia Goncharova: Hay cutting (image from here)
Now I am discovering all about her through the splendid catalogue.  So many of her paintings, unlike the one at the top, remind me of my early childhood summers in northern Greece and the views in the '50s of farming activity in the landscapes we passed with the train across Europe.
Natalia Goncharova: Linen (image from here)
The religious paintings chime with the icons which surrounded me, and the lovely painting immediately above reminds me of the laundry near our flat where to my wide-eyed childish fascination they used irons just like the one pictured.  When I was about four, when I was the only child in the whole extended family, there were many aunts alive, and we would go for glorious picnics when the days seemed to stretch forever.  I find that Goncharova's paintings chime with my memories of those times.  This is especially true of the image below which is from Eirene's blog A Place Called Space and her post on the Natalia Goncharova exhibition at the Tate.
Natalia Goncharova: Apelsinia (image from here)
This catalogue is therefore not only full of information but also a lovely reminder of a most enjoyable time in my life.


  1. It's such a delight when paintings evoke happy memories from the distant past. The exhibition did not have the same effect on me but I suspect that some aspects of our childhoods were quite different, even though a lot of what you have said over the years about your life in Thessaloniki, did resonate with me. We never went for picnics for instance, but I think you and I shared a lot of the defining aspects of Greek middle class life of that period.

    'Linen' is a wonderful painting.

    Your post also reminded me of the large number of postcards I used to buy when visiting exhibitions - it was such a treat. Now of course, like you, I never do, for the same reasons as you.

    1. Picnics were very much the thing with the ladies of Trepizond. My grandmother, her sisters and others would tell stories of the carriages which took them out into the country for the day. In Thessaloniki there were so many of those same ladies there that they continued the habit. Unlike the painting, however, most of them wore black. The body language, the poses, are just like a photograph of those times.

      There are so few postcards around at exhibitions or of collections these days. I remember the entry vestibule of the British Museum used to be one long display stand of postcards of all sorts of obscure objects. Over the years I have posted them off to friends, but now only have a few left. The quality of reproduction in books these days though is so much better than that in the books I could not afford. Not only that, the quality of the essays is so good too that I really cannot resist.

  2. This post is absolutely brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing!