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Richard Hamilton at the Tate Modern

There are some painters normally to be found in the Royal Academy that stay safely within their comfort zone knowing what their patrons like and producing it almost formulaically. Richard Hamilton could not  be accused of this as he was forever trying new styles and methods of painting. He has thus come to occupy a position at the summit of British art, as the founder  of Brit pop art, acerbic political  commentator, photographer , designer but is he a master of his art? Has he mastered the grammar of draughtsmanship, composition, colour and form? I would say from this exhibition yes.

As I entered and saw some white abstract shapes which resembles garden ornaments  my heart dropped as to what I was going to experience. However a magnificent large picture devoted to Hollywood greats, Charlton Heston and Marln Brando  and a sculptor of Marilyn Monroe in the arms of a robot with toaster for a head( Rod Hamilton is big on toasters) convinced me otherwise. From a picture of Hugh Gaitskell (Portrait of Hugh Gaitskell As Famous Monster of Filmland)  with a strange eye that looks false like a teddy bear’s he was ready to lampoon politicians left and right. Later  , there is a picture of Tony Blair as a gunslinger and the Treatment Room features a actual treatment couch  with television above it showing a party political broadcast given by Mrs Thatcher. My companion liked best 3 picture sof Northern Ireland, one depicting a soldier tense on combat, an orange Order marcher and an IRA hunger striker who spread excrement and wore blankets . I preferred some softer studies of nudes in a modern cool interior apartment . There was also an atmospheric picture for Langans  of an empty dining table. In other rooms I did not appreciate at all the works. There was display of small Polaroid photos often blurred of famous people which I did not get at all. My companion in watching a  video of the Critic Laughs which showed a set of false teeth stuck on a mechanical sort of toothbrush bought in a gift box by a  beautiful model whom we recognised as a young Lorraine Chase.

After the exhibition, the four of us repaired to the Aquashard where we enjoyed some wine with spectacular view froma corner table over London. Southwark has risen in status and style these past few years and we all thought as we walked its lively streets past the Golden Hind to reach the Shard how London has changed these past 20 years and is a vibrant city. From our corner table this was as good a view as you would find in New York let alone London and the service and cost of wine was excellent  for the ambience and location.

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About Alice Mansfield

A graduate of the Slade, Alice has painted and written about art all her life. With her children now having now grown up and departed the nest, she recently took up sculpture. More Posts