To ‘astonish, disturb, seduce, convince’. These are the words that Lucian Freud used to describe the purpose of his art. Jackie Wullschlager, art correspondent of the FT, used the word ‘disconcerting’ to describe aspects of this ‘must-see’ exhibition taking place at the National Portrait Gallery until 27th May.
I agree that you should not miss it. Freud had a way of ‘landscaping the faces’ of his subjects. Instead of a flat image, one could feel the furrowed brows, the hollowed cheeks and, in particular, the sagging skin of the elderly. By stripping many of his subjects of the trappings of clothing, he laid bare (in the total sense of the word) an individual’s personality and ‘animal characteristics’.
But it has to be said that beyond the brilliant art lies an impression that none of his subjects would be happy with the results of his work. He has a knack of making all of his subjects appear depressed or bitter.
So whilst you should not miss this show, and would be uplifted by the quality of the art, it is quite likely you will come away a little depressed and certainly ‘disconcerted’.