tue 18/02/2020

Watercolour, Tate Britain | reviews, news & interviews

Watercolour, Tate Britain

Watercolour, Tate Britain

An exhibition so eager to overturn preconceptions that it forgets itself

John Dunstall: 'A Pollard Oak near West Hampnett Place, Chichester', c 1660

Does watercolour painting suffer from an image problem? Do you think of the wild, vaporous seascapes of Turner, or Victorian ladies at their sketchbooks dabbing daintily at wishy-washy flower paintings? Do you associate the medium with radical innovation or with staid tradition? And would Jackson Pollock have appeared quite so heroic flinging thin washes of watercolour around instead of viscous oils?


I completely agree with you about the end of the exhibition which shot itself in the foot with the discreditable inclusion of works which simply aren't watercolour, such as Sandra Blow's large acrylic. A lovely painting, but NOT a watercolour. Acrylic may be a water-based medium, but it shares none of the characteristics of watercolour.

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