Jonathan Jones wrote enthusiastically in the Guardian about Auerbach’s exhibition at Tate Britain, which is comprised of Lucian Freud’s collection of his work, accepted by the nation in lieu of death duties ….

I went today and felt the need to add this comment to his article:

The londonscapes are indeed redolent of the ever-regenerating by excavating nature of our grimy London.

But for me it was his ‘energy of execution’, his words, ‘in pursuit of a geometry of an exact expression’. that stopped me in my tracks.
I have often rather glibly felt (and taught) that Auerbach’s purest, most moving and most monumental work is in charcoal, but standing in front of ‘Rebuilding the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square’ I was properly moved.
rebuilding the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square (detail) FRANK AUERBACH Oils  1962

Rebuilding the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square (detail)

This painting is the same age as me and yet is as immediate as a drawing so often is. Thank you for singling it out – post-Olympics and as skyscrapers race each other towards the London skyline at a snail’s inexorable pace, this painting’s desolate optimism gave me a lump in my throat, as real as the clods of paint on his building site.

For the first time I can see that in (some of) his paintings the brushstrokes are more corrections (of division, tone and colour and, rarely, space) than gestures.
They are gestural but very nearly as subconscious as Pollock’s dribbles.
When he gets too actually sculptural, the process becomes more selfconscious and less coherent as painting, although they are masterful low (and not so low) reliefs.
His new masterly drawings are indeed rivalled by his magisterial paintings.
Is there a petition to sign to keep these works in London?




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