Sunday, April 24, 2016
Updating the Victorians
When: through August 7, 2016
I've been to the National Gallery probably hundreds of times, but I'm still not familiar with every nook and cranny of the place. This week, I went into a room I've never visited before, in search of some photographs by Tom Hunter.
This room is on the Concourse level, just before you turn to walk into the area with the big gift shop and the cafeteria. It's so tucked away that, even though I've walked past it countless times, I had no idea it existed.
The exhibit is five photographs, each a reworking of an iconic Victorian painting. The location for all the works is Hackney, a working class area in England. Apparently, it's gentrifying now, but when these photos were taken it was still a bit gritty. Each photograph has a small picture of the original painting next to it, so you can see the reference. I like this idea and hope the NGA will do more of it.
The one pictured here is based on a painting that was part of the National Gallery's 2013 Pre-Raphaelite show - I recognized it right away, with its lush greenery, and floating woman. The original was of Ophelia, the character from Hamlet. This photograph is a representation of a woman who fell into a canal after a late night and drowned. As I said earlier, a bit gritty.
Verdict: Worth a look, especially if you like photography or Victorian painting.