|Frank Auerbach, Head of EOW, 1960 - detail (artist copyright)|
|Auerbach, Head of EOW, 1960, charcoal on paper (artist copyright)|
The highlight for me was a portrait in charcoal by Frank Auerbach, a similar piece to the drawing of the same sitter in the current Tate exhibition, but if anything more powerful. I don't know whether this is the case or not, but the German writer WG Sebald must have had Auerbach in mind when he created the character of Max Ferber in his novel 'The Emigrants', Ferber being an artist who keeps erasing and reworking his drawings until his studio is covered in a thick layer of dust.
I was peering at the specks of charcoal dust that had fallen onto the liner of the frame when a fellow visitor to the gallery said something about the power of the work, and we struck up a conversation. I pointed out the way the paper had been torn in places by the youthful Auerbach's fierce technique; she noted in turn the bold straight lines and angles which add to the energy and strangeness of the portrait. We chatted for ten minutes or so, and for that short time it was as if talking about pictures with a complete stranger was the most natural thing in the world.
|Auerbach, Head of EOW - detail (artist copyright)|
Personally, I like this approach. It allows you to escape from your own preconceptions and prejudices and concentrate on looking. If something grabs you, then you can refer to the notes. A member of staff explained that the pictures were hung salon-style like this as a nod to 19th century customs, and isn't it better to have lots of work out on display, rather than stuck in a store room - even if you have to crane your neck a bit to see some of it?
|Richard Forster, Three Verticals on consecutive but random time intervals, Saltburn-by-the Sea, 21 Jan 2009 (artist copyright)|
|Richard Forster, installation view at Whitworth Art Gallery|
|Richard Forster, American Pastoral - Ostalgie Pattern with Tape, 2011 (artist copyright)|
Richard Forster's exhibition continues at Whitworth Art Gallery until the end of February.