Abstract painter Giorgio Griffa, closely linked to the Arte Povera movement, first became known in the 1960s as part of an Italian generation of artists who sought to radically redefine painting. 🎨
Believing in the ‘intelligence of painting’, Griffa allows the essential elements of his process, such as the type or width of the brush, the colour or dilution of the paint and the nature of the canvas, whether linen, cotton, hemp or jute, to influence and form the work. Griffa’s approach is performative and time-based – often working horizontally on the floor, his rhythmic, formal gestures soak into the unprimed and unstretched material. Griffa’s minimal and primordial marks extend from his fascination with quantum energy, time-space mathematics, the golden ratio and the memory of visual experience since time immemorial. Suggesting the ongoing and organic life of the painting, lines and brushstrokes are deliberately cut short and the canvas is never filled; never a finished or complete object, but a process viewed in the moment.
Impressionism is one of painting’s best loved movements, but in its time it was highly controversial. If it weren’t for the efforts of the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel – who tirelessly championed the likes of Monet, Pissarro, Degas and Renoir – many of its greatest works would have never gained precedence.
This exhibition at the National Gallery focuses specifically on Durand-Ruel, fierce advocate and loyal friend of the Impressionists. He became the group’s most courageous backer during the 1870s when their work was still being ridiculed or ignored. ‘Without him’, said Monet, ‘we wouldn’t have survived’.