I’ve always liked Tretchikoff’s work, so when I saw that they were showing the first retrospective exhibition of his work at The National Gallery, I was very pleased. H, C, and I traipsed off there on Saturday morning, wrapped warmly against the icy Winter’s day.
I love The National Gallery. It sits in The Company Gardens looking like a beautifully iced simple wedding cake, the old kind, back when they were always a square fruit cake with white icing over and you slept with a squashed slice under your pillow, to dream of your future husband. It looks out over the ponds of the gardens toward Signal Hill and inside it is still and the air is thick with art. It always makes me want to sing out loud.
The gallery types, especially, make me want to sing loudly. You know the ones – they all look terribly intellectual and have scarves wrapped artistically around their necks and they say things like “Ah yes, this was in his flower phase, when he was depicting the intricacies of the social system of the time, using a floral motif, ” where I say “Ooo, look at those pretty flowers he painted!”
I did, in fact, say a lot of that, because I especially liked his big, colourful, highly-textured flower paintings. His iconic Chinese Girl is there too, and a whole lot of others. I hadn’t realised how prolific he was, and how wide a range he had – from still-life to nudes to portraits to animals (which I didn’t like) to some haunting and disturbing war images, he did all sorts.
It’s always nice, though, to go to an exhibition. To see something creative, to admire a great man’s talent, to be allowed to look through somebody else’s eyes, just for a little bit, and to wonder what they were thinking and know that what you’re thinking they were thinking is probably a thousand miles away from what they really were thinking at the time.