Matisse: Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, Prints at Bernard Jacobson Gallery 

The Bernard Jacobson Gallery in London is currently hosting a magnificent Matisse exhibition: ’Matisse: Painting, Sculpture, Drawing and Prints’. This exhibition showcases many marvellous pieces of art by the artist, including his rough sketches and ideas for his more extravagant artworks. 

The gallery begins upstairs in the main room, with floor to ceiling glass windows along the front of the building. Natural light shines into the room dancing off the art, illuminating each piece’s exquisite beauty. The exhibition continues downstairs, in contrast to upstairs, with next to no light from outside streaming in. However, the artificial lighting, creates a more homely ambience. 

French born Henri Matisse is well known for his daring, bright coloured still life and abstract paintings. This exhibition shows the work behind his most famous works, through his sketches, rough drafts and ideas, giving the viewer insight into the working mind of an artist. 

Figure assise et le torse grec (La gandoura)’ (1939), shows the beginnings of a typical Matisse portrait in which there is a woman seated rather nonchalantly. The background painting is partly finished, while the woman has not yet been painted, the viewer can see the unfinished sketch of her figure. 

Though there are many beautiful sketches in this exhibition, there are still many finished pieces of work, showing Matisse’s stunning art style that we all know and love.  ‘Nu aux jambes croisées’ (1936) shows a nude woman lounging peacefully beside a view of trees, with the ocean in the background. The beautiful use of bright colours and boldness of the brush strokes creates a simple yet stunning image. 

Jeune fille à la mauresque, robe verte’ (1921), shows a beautiful woman, draped in a luscious green robe, posing against a windowsill with a cool ocean and palm trees behind her in the background. The detailing in this painting is somewhat simplistic, yet brings the painting to life. The viewer can immerse themselves entirely in the painting and feel the breeze from the open window, and the smell of the ocean air, almost as if transported back to the 1920s when this young woman lived her seemingly glamorous life. 

Although unfinished, ‘Femme aux mains criosées’ (1940), is still full of life and human emotion. The sketch shows a woman gazing longingly toward the viewer, appearing to be in her own little world. Though colour and detail are absent from the picture, the viewer can connect with that familiar expression the woman holds, recognising the emotion on her face, with her half-closed eyes and distant stare, as she leans casually and detached against a table. The moment captured in this unfinished sketch begs only one question, how incredibly stunning would this piece be had Matisse completed it? 

The viewer will, without a shadow of a doubt, leave this exhibition content and amazed at seeing how Matisse began his creations as simple, rough sketches and nurtured them into the magnificent, kaleidoscopic worlds of colour to be appreciated by eyes all over the world for years to come. 

‘Matisse: Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, Prints’ is on at Bernard Jacobson Gallery until 16th September 2017. More information may be found here.

Ennigaldi