Towards Night juxtaposes key paintings and prints by Constable, Friedrich, Munch, Nolde, Palmer and Turner, some of the best known visionaries of the Romantic tradition with contemporary artists who work with the transformative aspects of nightfall to convey emotional responses of awe, anxiety and solitude, love and loss, revelry, insomnia, and journey’s end.
The exhibition opens with direct and positive responses to the natural world; Marc Chagall’s exotic dreamlike evening in The Poet Reclining (1915) sits close to eighteenth century Indian miniatures depicting brightly painted
figures offset against darkening monsoon clouds, and William Crozier’s Balcony at Night, Antibes (2007), of a plant, blue and iridescent against the cool night sky.
As the exhibition progresses, the dystopias become darker and more disturbing, and the connections between artists and works intensify: Emma Stibbon’s Rome Aqueduct (2011) takes on a heightened sense of pathos alongside Caspar David Friedrich’s Winter Landscape (1811); Peter Doig’s cinematic Echo Lake (1998) conjures up an increased sense of contemporary angst; and Prunella Clough’s False Flower (1993), a magical tree defying brutalism by growing out of concrete, becomes more miraculous near Night Shift (2015) Nick Carrick’s tomblike high rise. Tom Hammick’s Violetta Alone (2015) and Michael Craig Martin’s Ash Tray (2015), reinforce hedonistic aspects of night-time revelry alongside Four AM, Betsy Dadd’s young woman drinking in the early hours of the morning and L.S. Lowry’s drunken people in a pub in The Crowd (1922). In the final room, a cluster of works explores dreams and insomnia, from Louise Bourgeois’ Spirals (2010) to Munch’s lovers embracing in The Kiss (1902).
Tom Hammick, curator of the show said “This exhibition has grown way beyond its original conception, to become a magnificent survey of painting and printmaking from over two hundred years based around the central tenet of night. The exhibition is a kind of painterly response to the way figurative artists use their artistic heroes as starting points for their own work, both compositionally and emotionally.”
Artists featured in Towards Night: Craigie Aitchison, Hurvin Anderson, Christiane Baumgarter, Basil Beattie, William Blake, Nick Bodimeade, Louise Bourgeois, Matthew Burrows, Simon Burton, Nick Carrick, Patrick Caulfield, Marc Chagall, Stephen Chambers, Prunella Clough, Eileen Cooper, John Constable, Michael Craig-Martin, Andrew Cranston, William Crozier, Betsy Dadd, Peter Doig, James Fisher, Caspar David Friedrich, Ewan Gibbs, Will Gill, Tom Hammick, Gertrude Hermes, Utagawa Hiroshige, Howard Hodgkin, Susie Hamilton, Andrej Jackowski, Merlin James, Alex Katz, Georgia Keeling, Ken Kiff, Sara Lee, L S Lowry, Danny Markey, Edvard Munch, Mary Newcomb, Mariele Neudecker, Sidney Nolan, Emil Nolde, Humphrey Ocean, Julian Opie, Roy Oxlade, Samuel Palmer, Sarah Raphael, William Scott, George Shaw, Emma Stibbon, Edward Stott, J.M.W. Turner, Phoebe Unwin, Amanda Vesey, Alfred Wallis, Alice Walter, David Willets, Mark Wright, Rose Wylie.