Artist blogger, outside authority, and I spent an afternoon in Birmingham, during which OA made about 20 drawings and I made two. Here is what was supposed to be a simple sketch in conte crayon on scrap brown paper from the canal side in Brindley place.
We had started the day at the Ikon Gallery, viewing the exhibition of lithographs and other work from German print-maker, Kathe Kollwitz. I find it difficult to put into words the impact of her images. She lived in a poor neighbourhood of Berlin across the end of the 19th and through the early 20th century. Much of her figurative art depicts her own face as she aged and approached death. Her depictions of women, domesticity and oppression carry an intense humanity. One wall showed the same scene in multiple variations, the mother holding her dead child. On the other wall, I found images of households where the shadows obscure the male figure while the woman is highlighted. I had to look and see the dark silhouette of the man’s back, hands behind him, standing in despair across the other side of the bed: what had taken place between him and his wife who is lit in the foreground? Again, light shows a mother in bed with three beautifully drawn children in the covers. The dark mass to the fore is a man, head in hands: unemployment reads the title and I guess the children are hungry. One I found intriguing and then shocking, a woman lying on her back, her left leg projecting to me, foreshortened and intrusive, in the wreckage of a herb garden, a child in the dark background: raped, said the title, reflecting on an event at the start of a peasants’ rebellion. I thought back, in contrast, to an exhibition, the legacy of Rubens, a couple of years ago, and the paintings of jolly rolling frolicking flesh to depict rape in classical mythology.