Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory, Tate Modern - ★★★★☆ - Until May 6, 2019


The first time I visited the exhibition I was disappointed, but on my second visit my expectations were different; instead of the intense colour I had craved, I accepted the more subdued effect of Bonnard’s painting. The Tate’s subtitle, "The Colour Of Memory" conflates two aspects of his work. Colour for its own sake became his focus and he was heavily dependent on recalled versions of subjects. By his own admission, form was a secondary concern. Composition, human anatomy and likenesses are often casually handled too. The Bonnard ‘meme’ of a woman in a bath is often a distorted shape. But instead he delighted in pattern and was a supreme colourist. "The Table, 1925" displays wonderful subtleties of tone. Colours are often intensified and dramatically juxtaposed: "The Door Opening Onto The Garden, 1924" is a great example of both.There are frequent portrayals of domestic intimacy and the relationship between exterior and interior space (not always handled convincingly, as shown by "The Bowl Of Milk, 1919"). To offset his ‘greatest hits’, an isolated WW1 scene and a dark, almost Munch-like self portrait come as a shock. But it is the Bonnard we perhaps didn’t know that makes this show worth seeing.

Reviewed by A.L.


 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆★ 

WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until May 6, 2019
Mon - Thurs: 10 am - 4:30 pm
Fri - Sun: 10 am - 8:30 pm
The Eyal Ofer Galleries, Tate Modern
Nearest tube: Waterloo
https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on

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