Sunday, May 02, 2010

Exhibition reviews: Leicester New Walk Museum and Art Gallery

The forecast was for lots of showery rain, but it never appeared. Ah well, we still had a very pleasant day in Leicester collecting our tickets for the summer festivals (Big Session and Summer Sundae) and visiting the lovely New Walk Museum and Art Gallery.

We managed to catch the last weekend of the big Leicester exhibition (Journey out of Darkness) of German Expressionism which in itself was worth the visit. Leicester has, for a number of really interesting reasons, got a very large collection of German expressionist artworks including some very fine and regularly requested items. A key trigger point for their acquisitions was one very radical exhibition - 1944's Mid-European Art show: note the date and think then on how popular municipal bodies would be for showing German art. The show led to four important acquisitions: Franz Marc’s Red Woman, Lyonel Feininger’s Behind the Church, Emil Nolde’s Head with Red-Black Hair and Max Pechstein’s The Bridge at Erfurt.

But we also got to see the Meri Rail: Portraits of the Indian Railways (which thankfully runs until August, so you will have time to catch this). The people and and their captions/stories are fascinating and diverse: everyone from board members to drivers, orphan children who live in the stations to porters, tea-sellers to security police, job-form-sellers [there is a thriving business in selling the right job application forms for jobs on the railways] to engineers, cleaners to quota-sponsored athletes [the railway helps support those with additional talents]. Gerry Troyna's documentary and photographs with Achinto Bhadra are a delight to look at in detail.

The two together made for a truly stimulating visit: thought-provoking and visually interesting.

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