London Alive and Kicking III- El Greco at National Gallery!


National Gallery London!

There are museums and galleries all over the world but few match the wealth of exhibits and the spaces of the National gallery in London. I am going to try, try I will, to make the first of my visits to the gallery as interesting as possible but I know already that I shall fail.

Simply the wealth of the Gallery is overwhelming and beyond description in one or ten visits!!

El Greco Stands Out

The journey to Leicester Square lasted about twenty minutes. Quickly up, overground, in the sunshine of London and in the buzzying of a city full of vitality and life. Leicester Square is nothing like it is in the evenings and night time at 11:00 am. The cinemas are closed, the theatres are shut hermetically as if never opened before but, you know they are there, you know they are alive as their photo of shows and actors and actresses are live and impressive. This is the district of theatre, the arts of London. They are all here be that galleries, theatres, Opera House etc.

Theaters of Central London

The walk to the National Gallery from the tube, underground station, is only about five hundred yards walk. Pleasant walk I say as on the way one can see the theatres, the variety of restaurants and the Portrait Gallery just before you turn to face Trafalgar Square. This is the centre or it feels the centre of London in many respects. I might be wrong but that is how I feel today and every time I am at this place. Is it the huge roundabout, that is not any more, is it the famous Naval Battle, is it the obelisk and Nelson? I really cannot put my finger on it but here I am admitting my inability to explain a deep feeling of belonging here, being in the centre of London and UK.

Trafalgar Square in front of National Gallery

Standing In Front of National Gallery, London

Talking about London is just about the best way to show you London and let the imagination work its magic a little. The photos speak plenty but the eyes and brain have a lot more to say which I fail abysmally to register down. I know my limitations and in those is my strength. The classical facade of the Gallery is one more tribute to my birthplace and my origins, which I fail to trumpet enough here. Ancient Greece with all its achievements that the world admires and has taken plenty of mind to live with and achieve more with.

I am going to enter the gallery from the new wing of Sainsbury’s where the New is replacing the old but can it match it? That is where I leave it for you to judge and work out as indeed it deserves a comparison in every respect from outside and inside with what I am to discuss and show you in the next few days and weeks to come.

The Impressionist Exhibition is on but that is another chapter in my Blog. I will go straight to the galleries where thousands of people visit daily, FREE, and enjoy the Art of yesteryear from 16th Century onwards. My target is one painting and one man who came unnoticed from Crete and left us with a bang in Spain where he acquired his fame.

El Greco Self Portrait?

Walking into the gallery on a beautiful day outside is not the ideal situation, I’d rather be in one of the great parks of London but I have to do what I started to do. See the gallery in its present form and concentrate on one artist and one painting:

El Greco or Domenico Theodokopoulos, The Greek Master from Crete, Greece

Many old masters attract my attention because of size, prominent position and bright colours but nothing to inspire me and my demands of any good piece of art. Nothing is the truth as I see them all as similar and possibly all a little dated. I should be more positive, I know but is seems to me that these days I expect a lot more from art and especially Old Masters.

Then I find myself standing in front of the El Greco Crucifiction or Christ on the Cross! I stop and stop for good!

Two very important elements in El Greco’s work have always attracted me. The incredible passion and emotion in his art and his style of art that looks as contemporary as yesterday, as modern as early 20th century art even though it was painted in late 16th to early 17th centuries. I stand and I click my camera in order to be stopped and have only one bad image of this magnificent painting. An impressive canvas of over two meters height I would think by about 1.20m. The impact is immediate, the result is complete paralysis in front of this masterpiece of one of Greece’s most renowned children.

El Greco

I am not put off by the interruption of the attendant who is only doing his job. I sit and i look and take in the image, the emotions and the whole composition. Christ suffering on the Cross is the ultimate test of Jesus’ LOVE for humanity and that he took well in order to save us from our sins and our bad ways but…

Humanity has indeed lost its way and the Passion of Christ and his early disciples has not helped us lately. We forgot, we have forsaken his sacrifice and torture and we took a way that can only lead to more unnecessary troubles for us all. The two saints standing by have not interested me, I saw them not during all this the time I kept satring at the image. It was Christ’s body, Christ’s suffering that kept me fixed to the spot for some time.

It was only the saviour’s naked body and the messages from the fury of the elements that struck deeply and transfixed me there. There I stood, there I looked and looked, there I saw many things that now I cannot express in words and bring to you the impact and effect this painting of El Greco had on me. I must admit, I do believe but I am not a devout Christian, even though I think a good one in my way and in my mind!

The looking on any image stops at some time and the emotions and impact of the image take over and make the viewer aware of the strength of the image or the emptiness of it. Needless to say here what happened and which one took over. Emotions of guilt with emotions of sorrow immediately to be followed by that feeling of hope that all will be well as Christ predicted those years ago. The body seems to say hope and the look definitely asks for hope and help from above. It never occurred to me that it was for Jesus himself bur rather for us hopeless humans, who in spite of all remain mostly unbelievers!!

The inspiration is beyond description and the impact seriously deep. I cannot say any more but compliment Christs’ image above with another by a modern artist; a modern man as Christ in our collection

Yiannis Koutrikas

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