I always thought that the galleries in the Pedder Building would focus on contemporary, modern art – and so I was surprised to see so many classic paintings and drawings at the Gagosian Gallery recently.
They looked like old classics, and then I realised that they were works by the famous painter Balthus.
Balthus used a technique that was similar to early Renaissance paintings, though with a subversive modern twist – some paintings include nudes, others feature cats and dogs. I enjoyed his self-portrait “The King of Cats” from 1935 where he presents himself wearing a jacket and tie with a cat nuzzling his feet.
He had acquired a medieval castle near Viterbo, and he kept depicting the nearby ruins of a watchtower situated on a steep cliff regularly, just slightly adjusting his palette with the seasons.
In the last decade of his life, when he could not draw anymore, he used a Polaroid camera to create “sketches” for his paintings, which were often many years in the making. Apparently, one model called Anna kept coming to him every Wednesday for eight years in the same room with the same setting – for him to take pictures. Interesting, don’t you think?
The show runs until August 15, 2015. More information can be found here.