Last weekend we spent a couple of days in picturesque Chichester. Our main reason for going was to see an exhibition of the work of Edward Burra 1905-1976. My favourite period in art and design is around the 1930s and as it turns out many of Edward Burra’s paintings that I like the most are also from this time. Much of his subject matter from around this time is of the seedier side of life and features night creatures from bars, the theatre and the streets.
His style of painting, which has presumably inspired others that have followed him, for the most part has a rounded soft silky quality. His people have shiny fine fabric like skin, curvaceous heads and bodies, with eyes that look into the distance as if looking nowhere at all. He breathes life into inanimate objects. You might well want to stroke the Lorries he paints from later in his career as if they were a cat or a gerbil.
As well as the sizeable collection of paintings at the Pallant House Gallery there is also a video presentation in which we learn that he liked to travel and would go off without saying where he was going. That he would slide out unnoticed from social gatherings. He liked to have a good time but didn’t much care for ‘fuss’, and when he was awarded a CBE he managed to get out of going to the palace to collect it, usefully citing ill health as a reason for non-attendance. Edward Burra seemed like an okay dude.
If you get the chance this is a must visit exhibition and it is on until the 19th February 2012