Chagall: Modern Master
8 June – 6 October 2013
A retrospective of the distinguished Russian surrealist painter who could transform even the most prosaic event into a thing of wonder.
Purveyor of the surnaturel, Marc Chagall was at the forefront of the Surrealist movement in Paris.
His dreamy paintings were said to be fuelled on absinthe and love for his first wife Bella, yet they were also the paintings of a refugee, who had watched the Russia of his childhood disappear after the Revolution.
This exhibition focuses on Chagall’s early career, his years in Paris before the First World War and his brief return to his native country in 1917. What it reveals is an artist on the cusp of transformation, from the naïve folklore painter to one that embraced the modern movements of cubism, fauvism and expressionism, yet always remained rooted in his native Jewish Russian culture.
The Green Donkey, 1911, painted in Paris, was inspired by the tales Chagall heard as a child. The virulent colours and odd composition reflect the fantastical nature of the story.
The Poet Reclining, 1915, a disquieting painting rooted in nostalgia, centres on Chagall's honeymoon in the Russian countryside. While the setting appears serene, the odd composition of the figure in the foreground and the virulent sky, are suggestive of the conflict in Russia to come.