It is not ever so surprising how few students know about the Djanogly gallery, tucked away right in the centre of the Art History department, but if you were to ever take the time to venture down the hill to the Lakeside, let it be for this exhibition, and you will not be disappointed.
Without from Within examines the nature of painting as a window to reality, and the nature of the window motif in painting, tracing the perception of this reality from the late 19th century to the present day.
It would be easy to say that the success of Without From Within is due to it being of an accessible medium (painting, mostly of the landscape variety) as well as boasting some big names such as David Hockney, Rene Magritte and Paul Nash. However, don’t be fooled, the exhibition is a lot more challenging than one might expect. Looking at Margritte’s beguiling ‘La Condition Humaine’, a painting of a painting of a landscape in front of a window looking out on said landscape (!) gives the same sort of feeling as being in a house of mirrors, it might be confusing, but is simultaneously completely captivating. Leading an impressive selection of contemporary work with the same theme, is Nottingham based artist George Shaw, whose hyper-realist, minutely detailed paintings, rendered with Humbrol modelling paint, are a haunting window to Shaw’s dreams-nightmares-memories-visions of post-war Britain.
Curator Anne Goodchild also chooses at times to via away from a strictly chronological arrangement of the exhibition, to better show the relationship between mainland European work and British work, which works as a sub theme in the exhibition. This arrangement concisely demonstrates the move from almost total dependency in the early 20th century, to the development of a far more autonomous national style in the present day, and confirms Without from Within as a multi-dimensional exhibition that is more than worth a trek down the hill.
This exhibition is open until May 3rd
By Victoria Urquhart