As the summer well and truly draws to a close, I look back and think about what I did with it. One of the things that stands out more than others is my trip to the National Art Gallery. It’s not something anyone who knows me would expect me to spend a Sunday afternoon doing. I’m not the culture type. But it was something that I think everyone should spend a boring day doing. It’s free and it’s something different. Besides, if I can get something out of it, I think anyone can. Like I said, I’m not the culture type, the artsy type, or the “look at the clear emotional pain expressed through the vivid brush strokes” type. I just like the pretty paintings and reading the background.
I spent way too long in the first room where all the Irish paintings were. My favourite was Jack B. Yeats. His paintings are quite abstract, but not in a modern “this squiggle represents my loneliness” way, just in a way that you really have to look to see the subjects of the painting. Also, I think he had a thing for horses because he paints a lot of them.
There were also a few sarcastic paintings, which I enjoyed, being a beacon of sarcasm myself. Nathaniel Hone painted Joshua Reynolds, President of the Royal Academy in a way that accused of Reynolds of plagiarism. Ironically, further on in the gallery, Reynolds paints a portrait of Charles Coote, 1st Earl of Bellamont and a “vain, pompous womaniser.” Reynolds seems to deliberately paint him in overtly flamboyant clothes and in a relaxed, pompous pose.
Finally, possibly the most entertaining room in the gallery, there was the room of portraits. In this room it’s fun to play the “guess who was a bit into themselves” game. The range of artist’s own views of themselves was quite a sight to see. Please look out for the artist in the middle of a painting in his self-portrait, as he turns in his chair Troy McClure-style.
So the next time you’re bored, broke and looking for something different to do, I’d suggest the National Art Gallery. It can be great craic, especially if you have loud people trying to pretend they know all about the paintings, or pretentious mothers trying to ‘culture’ their five-year-old children.