The Versatile Paintings Of Renato Guttuso

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 43 months ago
The Versatile Paintings Of Renato Guttuso ★★★☆☆ 3
The shark's jawbone looks oversized and out of place on this cliff edge. Copyright Galleria d'Arte Maggiore, Bologna.
The shark's jawbone looks oversized and out of place on this cliff edge. Copyright Galleria d'Arte Maggiore, Bologna.
The lovers on the left are lost in this landscape as the eyes are drawn to the bright path. Copyright Estorick Collection.
The lovers on the left are lost in this landscape as the eyes are drawn to the bright path. Copyright Estorick Collection.
Guttuso did turn his hand to still lifes but they weren't his strongest works. Copyright Galleria d'Arte Maggiore, Bologna.
Guttuso did turn his hand to still lifes but they weren't his strongest works. Copyright Galleria d'Arte Maggiore, Bologna.
The striking lines on this wounded hero convey a sense of inner strength. Copyright Estorick Collection.
The striking lines on this wounded hero convey a sense of inner strength. Copyright Estorick Collection.
These overlapping rooftops almost have a Cubist feel to them. Guttuso does cite Picasso as one of his inspirations. Copyright Galleria d'Arte Maggiore, Bologna.
These overlapping rooftops almost have a Cubist feel to them. Guttuso does cite Picasso as one of his inspirations. Copyright Galleria d'Arte Maggiore, Bologna.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art is a fantastic gallery that specialises in bringing lesser known artists to a London audience, such as with the spectacular Dottori show last year. Their latest exhibition is on Renato Guttuso, a name familiar to most Italians, although this is the first we've seen of his work.

On entering the first of this two room exhibition, it's clear that Guttuso was an extremely versatile painter. His art includes still lifes, abstract works, and even a painting that is an homage to Picasso and three separate Impressionists all at once. Though the quality can be a little patchy, especially amongst his abstract works,  it's compensated for with some outstanding pieces including a surreal oversized shark's jawbone placed on a seaside cliff top and the Expressionist landscape with lovers — in which the embracing couple almost seem to blend into the wall they are leaning against.

Guttuso's diversity is summed up by three paintings across one wall. A war hero lying bandaged in bed features such angular lines that it could be considered a Futurist work, while the Expressionist and Romantic bare-chested heroine next to him presents a striking contrast. Next to these is yet another variation in style, as a labourer attacks a textured stony wall that towers over him, making him appear insignificant.

It's this versatility that impressed us, made us overlook the less accomplished works, and let us enjoy the Italian painter's broad portfolio.

Renato Guttuso: Painter of Modern Life is on at The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art until 4 April. Admission is £5 for adults and includes entrance to their permanent collection and a chance to see the drawings of Peter de Francia, a friend of Guttuso's.

For more art to see in London see our top 10 exhibitions for January.

Last Updated 15 January 2015