Alberto Giacometti at the Portrait Gallery

The presence of Giacometti

Although Giacometti is formally connected to surrealist and cubist ideas as a sculptor the show currently at the Portrait gallery shows his work on canvas and board that is painted with a few sculpted pieces. The beginning of the show is enlightening one can see his early struggle with depicting a face on a flat surface. It is this that sets something off that makes one visualize the artist’s thoughts on what he was trying to see. It was a fight to place the character of a person in to a different form.

What comes through is he did not enjoy the process, the lines are unsure they are uncomfortable for him. Further in the show the paintings have developed in to a more settled idea but the struggle is still noticeable. The pictures don’t feel like they are surreal if anything they are different to this movement and I would say that his sculptors are to. They are unique in their vision the pictures like his sculptures depict faces thin with small heads in relation to the body. The frame is used to draw a space of what is occurring in the space around the figure.

The ‘pure presence’ as the title of the show suggests may lead one to look into a more existential idea where the people that he worked with as models and they were few in number were in a way unimportant as he was interested in the reality of being. Not in trying to capture someone as a person but what it is to be as people and how we conceive ourselves in this light.

The show does not have a large quantity of his work the focus being that of the portrait and less about sculpture. It is well conceived exhibition by Paul Moorhouse who clearly has worked hard on achieving a great show. I am now drinking a beer to that in the pub. One would say ‘I exist and I will therefore be drinking another beer to that to’. The exhibition ends 10 January 2016 so there is still time to visit.

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