Artwork of the Month: June

This month’s work from our permanent collection has been chosen by Bronwen Bradshaw RWA: 

Lawson, Sonia, b.1934; Fallen Angels

Sonia Lawson, Fallen Angels, oil on canvas, 152 x 121cm

I have so many questions about this painting. What is happening here? Who are these two monumental figures? The tension between them is immense, the colours urgent and full of danger. There appears to be no subtlety in the geometrical construction of the painting: it’s slap bang in your face. Could those be the twin towers in the background? No, of course not, this is 1987. But now I’m involved; this could be a part of my own history. There’s light and dark, and a redemptive quality here, and somehow I’m left with the feeling that Fallen Angels includes me too.

This is the genius of Sonia Lawson’s work: it operates on an epic scale, and though she insists that she is not a ‘storyteller’, the archetypes she uses coupled with autobiographical references form a gripping narrative which speaks directly to the viewer. I became aware of Lawson in the 1990’s when she was showing at the Boundary Gallery, and then in 2000 the RWA mounted a major retrospective of her work. She was at the Private View, and I was lucky enough to be there and to be able to tell her how much I loved her work. By this time it had become more abstract, often consisting of row upon row of squares or triangles containing loosely drawn figures, patterns and hieroglyphs (she says she spent hours drawing in the British Museum. How lucky that she – and we – are still allowed to draw in the BM! But that’s another story…). Though more formalised in structure, these later, highly textured paintings are no less monumental than the earlier figurative ones, and convey what it is to be human just as powerfully.

All of it, for me, is inspiration.

 

Fallen Angels is on display for the month of June on the upstairs landing.

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