Friday, August 12, 2011

National Gallery of Canada: Caravaggio

Besides going to Ottawa to visit Parliament Hill, this year I also went because the National Gallery of Canada had a Caravaggio exhibit.  I have been a huge fan of Caravaggio for years, ever since high school when I took art history.  I love his painting style because he makes people look so real and life-like, and because of the dark and light contrast (creating unspoken emotions).  This baroque style never ceases to amaze me, because I can stare at a painting for hours and still be puzzled at how it looks so real.  I also love how he pulls off such impossible to reproduce bodily poses on canvas.  So when I heard his art work would be on display at the art gallery I knew I had to go.
The National Gallery of Canada is located just a few blocks from Parliament Hill, and has an amazing view of Ottawa from all sides of the building.  On the front of the gallery there is a massive giant spider to greet you as you walk in.  My friend who I went to the exhibit with, told me that there were mixed reactions towards this piece when it was first installed.  I honestly liked the spider because the gallery building seems so serious and intimidating, and the spider adds a spice of imagination towards the area.  Art galleries are meant to be different, abstract, and especially provide you with something to talk about.  I also believe that all art takes a while before we get used to it and find the beauty in it.  I’m sure artists such as van Gogh and Claude Monet must have faced criticism when they first displayed their pieces as well.
Entrance into the Caravaggio exhibit was $15, and it also allowed me to visit the rest of the art gallery.  Unfortunately I was unable to take any pictures and videos of the paintings because of copyright issues.  However I wasn’t totally disappointed because once you see these masterpieces up close and personal, there really isn’t any way else to describe how beautiful they are; you simply need to see them in person.  I was amazed at how close I got to these paintings because I thought they would be behind glass, but they weren’t.  Instead I was able to get so close to them I was able to inspect the brush strokes of Caravaggio.  To me an artist’s brush stroke is as distinctive as a person’s signature, and I was amazed at how such a simple stroke could create such a piece of beauty.  Up close you could see a stroke going one way with a certain colour, and then another way with a different colour; and yet when you move back you see it is a hand or a face that is highly realistic.  Among all those art pieces I felt inspired and I began to understand how the power of art can move a person.
The paintings I remember seeing at the exhibit are as follows:

The Fortune Teller
The Musician
The Lute Player
Boy Bitten by a Lizard
Martha and Mary Magdalene
Sacrifice of Isaac
Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy
St Francis in Meditation

Please excuse me if I left out a painting in this list.  The paintings that weren’t at the exhibit that I would have loved to have seen are ‘Supper at Emmaus’, ‘The Calling of St Matthew’, ‘The Taking of Christ’, and ‘Conversion on the Way to Damascus’ (which is a fresco).  Overall the exhibit is amazing and I would like to thank the National Gallery of Canada for bringing these pieces over.  The exhibit of ‘Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome’ will run from June 17 to September 11, 2011.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa:
Caravaggio Wiki:

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