My art was strangely warmed
Posted on 23 June 2010, 19:14
A new exhibition opens in London today featuring highlights and new works from the Methodist collection of modern and contemporary art. I’ve never seen the Methodists and modern art in the same sentence before now, and one friend suggested the two go together ‘like Evangelicals and literature’. So finding out about this collection is an unexpected surprise.
The collection, which includes more than 40 works, dates back to the early 60s when Methodist art collector John Gibbs started buying works for the church after noticing that many modern artists were working with biblical themes. Bits of the collection are frequently on tour in churches around the country. See here for the website of the collection.
The show is at Wallspace – ‘a spiritual home for visual art’ in the City church of All Hallows on the Wall – from now until 16 July. It includes paintings and prints from the 20th and 21st centuries, and all of them look perfectly at home in this 18th century sanctuary.
From the older school, I was most struck by Graham Sutherland’s domestic icon of The deposition, with its reversed perspectives and an ochre sky standing in for the gold leaf of icons; and also by The crucifixion of Francis N Souza, with its expressive hands and midnight blue sky.
Among the more recent works, Mark Cazalet’s Fool of God brings the colours of bloody death into a night-time garden. I’ve seen Jyoti Sahi’s The Dalit Madonna before, in a small jpeg on the Net, but the sheer size and presence of the actual painting are something to experience.
The collection also commissions contemporary art, and a small example of that caught my eye before I left: Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ study for Woman Taken in Adultery (which I took a snap of, see above). I was surprised by the fear and degradation of the image and realised those themes rarely come out of the story in John’s Gospel. I hope Hicks-Jenkins keeps that oppressive feeling in his final version of the work for the collection.