Alongside the Veronese blockbuster at National Gallery, this has been one of the mostanticipated art exhibitions of the year, but does it live up to the hype? Matisse is one of history’s most versatile artists but by focussing on one aspect of his portfolio, is there a risk of curating a repetitive exhibition?
The show opens with a video of Matisse creating one of his cut outs. Despite his age and being wheelchair bound, he is working with an intensity and fervour of somebody half his age. The exhibition continues with many of his smaller works and it’s amazing how much can be conveyed with what are essentially simple colours and shapes.
Dancers bound with energy, pain is evident as Icarus plummets back to earth and a wolf looks terrifying with its angular features and razor sharp teeth. There is a lull in the middle of this show as a recreation of Matisse’s studio walls is lost in a large gallery, and the tribute to Matisse’s chapel at Vence is a ridiculously poor representation of the actual building.
But from here on, the exhibition accelerates through gallery after gallery of bright, bold forms culminating in a crescendo of riotous colour. Massive works such as Sheaf and The Parakeet and the Mermaid are all encompassing when seen in person.
This exhibition shows how diverse Matisse could be even when working in a seemingly uniform medium — it’s a whirlwind of colour that burnt images on to our retinas and delivers on the hype.
Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs is on at Tate Modern until 7 September. Tickets are £16.30 for adults, concessions available. Also still on at Tate Modern is the diverse retrospective of Richard Hamilton.