Immigrants have clearly had a massive impact on the development of British art. The latest exhibition from the Tate Britain aims to explore this link by displaying the different styles that immigrant artists brought with them, and how British artists learned from them to further their own skills.
The exploration of how such artists ended up in Britain is fascinating. Though the exhibition skirts over the fact, it’s likely that many of these artists came over to Britain as a business opportunity rather than to contribute to British art. Their handiwork might have seemed pedestrian at home but would have been considered exotic, and therefore more lucrative, in Britain. It’s apparent that though the Dutch and Italian painters who migrated here were talented, their works were not on a par with the contemporary masters at work in their home countries.
A few pieces hold interesting back stories along with superb artistic qualities, but the majority of the works on display are largely disappointing – even the Canaletto is not one of his best.
The exhibition has more to offer when displaying contemporary art, with the hypnotic ‘Cloud Canyons’ by David Medalla and the spiritual and powerful work by Rasheed Araeen being two highlights.
Though this exhibition explores some great stories around migration, the art on display does not necessarily do them justice.
Migrations: Journeys into British Art is on display at the Tate Britain until 12 August. Admission is £6 for adults, concessions available.
By Tabish Khan