Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Macabre Imagination


Sometimes when I'm at an auction I will come across the relics of someone's career as an art student or amateur artist and if their work takes my fancy I've been known to have a bid in order to sell off the better pieces individually. I like the way that this gives artwork which may well have been lying in an attic for sixty years, never looked at since art school in the 1940s, a new life. I don't make any great claims for the quality of this kind of material but I do find it interesting. So, it's become something of a recurring theme that, within the otherwise completely conventional work of a young woman in the 40s or 50s I am usually assured of finding at least one item where the slightly darker side of their imagination has been let loose. This latest lot has been something of a goldmine in that respect. Among what must be some 200 pieces ranging from pencil sketches to finished paintings, including the usual botanical watercolours, pencil life studies of big bottomed women, exercises in illustration and lettering and so on... are these four: a demon in a Victorian dress, a seedy looking gentleman with a third eye, a sickly-looking woman in yellow and a quick sketch of bodies hanging from a gallows. All most peculiar and perhaps just a little bit telling of the suppressed strains of wartime.



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