Saturday, 3 July 2004

At last: Hopper.

I can see I'm in danger of letting the Hopper show get away from me. It already seems to be slipping into the occluded canyons of my mind ( the drawer marked shirts).

And what can I say about it that will satisfy not only myself but my devoted reader (Hi, Marja-Leena!)?

It was everything I hoped it would be, even with the omission of favourite pictures like New York Movie or House by the Railroad.

Or indeed, Chop Suey. Remembering this picture of two women in cloche hats sitting in a restaurant, outside of which is a huge sign showing part of the word "SUEY," suddenly brought back to me the memory of having seen the last Hopper retrospective at the Hayward in 1981. How could I have forgotten? What's wrong with my memory? I had a poster from that show, depicting Chop Suey, on the wall of the attic at my previous house for years, for god's sake!

Ah well, this one won't get away so easily.

Going round this exhibition was a lot like visiting old friends, although there were a couple I didn't recognise, and it was a real pleasure sharing views with Patsy123. I was particularly struck with how clean and modern the paintings looked, mainly, I suppose as a result of Hopper's paring away of detail.

But most of all I came away with an impression of paintings of people disconnected, nobody talking to anyone else, everyone looking in different directions. And his choice of composition often gave the feeling that the main protagonists were looking at something important out of the picture that we could not be party to.

Is that woman looking at something beyond the tree line, or inwardly cursing the tree line for keeping the world from her? What has the dog seen to the left of the picture that prevents it from looking at its master who calls it, while the woman looks in upon her own thoughts? What kind of light is it that bathes the man sweeping his yard in a Pennsylvania coal town?

Overall, a sense of mystery.


A window gaping wide
Exhales the heavy city heat.
Curtains move seductively
To embrace the cool, crisp night air.
Darkness of stone without,
Makes a frame for an enticing glimpse
Of life within a lighted window.

A woman, unknowing,
Offers her proud, red robed rear
As she bends tending what? why?
Offers a brief flash of her life.
Bids me welcome, draws me in,
But answers nothing, shuts me out.
Within the room
Shapes, shades, shadows, inconclusive, tease,
They are hers to know. Intimate, familiar,
Mine only to conjecture, ungraspable,
A mystery.

(Patsy123 - July 2004)

No comments: