I had some time after a business trip to London last week so I stuck my head into the National to take a look at their Peder Balke exhibition.
And you’d be right, the chap is almost unknown outside his native Norway, and for all I know he may not be too well known their either. I was quite taken by the bit on the National Gallery website where he’s referred to as a ‘forerunner of Modernism’ and I do like a bit of modernism. Truth be told, it didn’t look too much like modernism to me, but that might be my lack of a firm grip on what this might mean in art crit terms. I found this review by Alastair Sooke, who does know what he’s talking about, and he rather seems to agree with this..or perhaps it’s fairer to say I agree with him!
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, I did and I’m glad I dropped in on it. I’d have been less enamoured if I’d trekked up to London just to see it mind, as there isn’t a whole lot of it and there is a limit to how many shipwrecks and lighthouses I can enjoy. The later ones where there is little or no colour are interesting, and the big one just to the left of the door as you go in is the one I kept going back to look at.
The exhibition is on loan from the Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum in Tromso – having taken a look at some of the exhibitions they’ve had on their website I rather wish it wasn’t so far away…