Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gustave Moreau, short exhibition review

Lady MacBeth. Oil on canvas by Gustave Moreau. Photo: Julie Clarke, 2010
All those beautifully proportioned, partially naked sirens was all very well, but my favourite painting in Gustave Moreau: The Eternal Feminine currently showing at the NGV International was Lady MacBeth, a small, 32 x 24 cm oil on canvas. The viscous columns that frame her ghostly form so aptly symbolise her fiery passion for her husband's desire to be King and the remorse she experiences after being implicated in his ghastly crime. Indeed, she appears trapped between the vertical, blood-red smears, indicative of the blood on her hands, the blood that she places on others, and her own menstrual blood. She remains forever between these two forces ~ the masculine and feminine, good and evil, joined and yet simultaneously a discrete individual. But what I appreciate about Moreau's treatment, is that Lady MacBeth exudes a spiritual energy, a glow that suggests that he perceived her as more than a woman who desired power, but something else entirely. There are many small studies in this exhibition, some drawn, others painted and there are large paintings that look unfinished; strangely enough the fact that they are incomplete gives them an interesting edge. Overall, the exhibition is an intriguing expose of this 19th Century, French symbolist painter.

No comments:

Post a Comment