The exhibition at the grand location of The Barbers Institute of Fine Arts Birmingham features a range of lithographs, sketches & oils showcasing scenes of groups of soldiers, women working in the munitions factory and prisoners of war through the eyes C.R.W Nevinson. As with all exhibitions there are pieces of art that stand out more than others leaving a striking impression.
In the art work ‘War Profiteers’ he depicts images of revulsion of the idea that women profited from the war working as prostitutes & mistress’s oil on canvas the painting sees the women to have prominent and somewhat grotesque features due to the nature of their profiteering. Facial features were highlighted by shadows, with the artist using the notion the streetlights were what the women stood under to showcase their assets.
A very powerful oil on canvas ‘La Patrie’ 1916 represents the horrific scene inside the Shambles of badly injured dying and dead German & French soldiers due to the lack of medical staff & resources the artist claims they were left unattended for three weeks. It is a dark emotive piece where the shading and contours of the shadows & lines express the pain the men endured.
There were three striking sketches that stood out on a personal note,
'Return to the Trenches’ charcoal & crayon, charcoal on paper ‘
Returning to the Trenches’ 1914-15 oil on canvas &
‘Returning to the trenches 1916 etching’
These are artworks that I only ever viewed in art books or on television programmes, thus making it a delight to see the symmetrical strong images representing the soldiers of the First World War capturing the powerful atmosphere on the Western Front. The images are very futurist & modern, which is why I have always viewed Nevinson's style of work as ahead of it's time.
The canvases & prints on display are detailed visual dairies of the life's of people in the early nineteen hundreds of the First World War or those who participated in some capacity.
This exhibition runs to 25th January at the Barber Institute at Birmingham University.