Victoria Crowe: Resonance of Time | Flowers

A pair of unseasonal exhibitions this week, in galleries on opposite sides of Cork Street. Unseasonal in that both of the featured artists use bare, skeletal tree branches as consistent visual motifs; look around you though, and trees are bursting into leaf everywhere, as summer begins to stir.

Victoria Crowe, on show at Flowers, studied under Prunella Clough, who’s shown up more than once on this site before; unlike her teacher though, Crowe’s work escapes from the city. She specialises in almost spiritual landscapes of forests, mountains, and occasionally closer up views of branches and leaves.

victoria crowe - ‘shining of a late sun’

Crowe gets consistent inspiration from walks at twilight, when the “golden hour” fades. Shining of a Late Sun, pictured above, is a representative example. Her oil paints, on fine linen, glow.

It might seem an unlikely link between such pretty paintings and hard-edged abstractionist Hans Hartung, but visiting the German giant’s show over the road at Waddington Custot straight afterwards, it’s a link I couldn’t avoid.

Hartung, who died in 1989 and whose massive 2019 retrospective at MAM in Paris I’ve featured on here, is most famous for his gestural, calligraphic paintings, which adorned many a post-war book cover. The Waddington Custot exhibition makes an interesting link between these, his later works in which a wheelchair-bound Hartung painted on huge canvases using a specially-adapted spray gun, and the photographs he took throughout his career.

As befitting such a prolific artist - I think my legs are still aching from the enormous MAM show - there are 30,000 negatives still held by his foundation. Waddington Custot showcases just a few.

They show patterns in nature: reeds sticking up in a pond, cloud formations, light on water. And, again and again, the shadows of bare branches.

These branches show up of course in his painted and then spray-canned patterns. They’re there in Crowe’s contemplative compositions, too. I’m happy to have been offered such a fulfilling artistic link-up, even if it was surely an accident of time and place.

Victoria Crowe: Resonance of Time is at Flowers (London). 08 April - 21 May 2022