Situated only a few minutes away from the Tate Modern and next to the new Blackfriars station entrance, the Bankside Gallery which belongs to the The Royal Watercolour Society was clearly a revelation for me a few days ago when I was finding my way to The Royal Academy of Arts. I was in quite a hurry ... as the cold wind was really cutting through my coat but the moment I noticed the gallery I turned on my heels and it was a matter of ... Manet can wait for a bit.
The current Bankside exhibition consists of the successful entries to the Royal Watercolour Society's annual open competition and it offered us a delightful half an hour in a splendid environment, surrounded by lots of styles of painting ... making me really dream about a day when one of my paintings might be displayed there. Everything starts with a dream doesn't it? So the next step is to try and go through the process of being accepted to belong to this prestigious society.
Twenty minutes later, we found ourselves five minutes away from the Royal Academy of Arts, a place I had never been to before. But another stop, another discovery delayed our journey and we found ourselves in "an Alladin's cave", surrounded by lots of nuts, coffee, dry fruit, smiles and inviting smells .... in "Carpo - nuts, chocolate and coffee", a brand new shop at 16 Piccadilly. It is a family business, opened 3 just weeks ago and it originates from Greece. I just adore independent shops and salute any independent initiatives ... I know how challenging this is and I would love Londoners and visitors to support this shop. The products are divine that's for sure!
A week ago I had the pleasure of seeing right in front of me Manet's "A bar at the Folies-Bergere" (exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1882 ) at the Courtauld Gallery. Having been to see the acclaimed Manet - Portraying Life at the Royal Academy of Arts I cannot but still think that for me "A bar at the Folies-Bergere" is my favourite of his.
Is it because I am seduced by the sad eyes, the vulnerability that comes from the barmaid, the luxurious surrounding reminding me of Alexandre Dumas, fils - "The lady of the Camellias" ... who knows. I'm just delighted that I will be able to see it many times given that it belongs to the Courtauld Gallery.
But let's go to the special exhibition open until April 14th, 2013 at the Royal Academy, the first major exhibition in the UK devoted to the work of Edouard Manet. What you will be able to admire are mostly portraits, starting from the early paintings of his family to the later works created around 1878. His love of capturing the soul of his sitters on canvas is pretty obvious and portrait after portrait you will have the chance to meet members of Manet's family and friends including famous writers and poets (Zola, Mallarme, Baudelaire), artists (Eva Gonzales and Berthe Morisot) and much more.
Although it was an enjoyable experience, and it was incredible to read that many of the paintings had not been shown during Manet's life, somehow I was left with a feeling of longing ... longing for his painting Olympia (the painting that caused such a shock and astonishment when it was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1865), I missed feeling his non conventional side!
It is definitely worthwhile visiting the exhibition but stop at the Courtauld Gallery and make a note to visit Musee D'Orsay in Paris and admire Olympia.
Art brings souls together, art travels through time and for a while makes us feel that the past, present and future are one.