Sixty artists explore the nocturnal.
Curated by Tom Hammick.
The evening hour too gives us the irresponsibility which
darkness and lamplight bestow. We are no longer quite ourselves.
– Virginia Woolf, Street Haunting: A London Adventure, 1930
Towards Night is an exhibition exploring the nocturnal through paintings, prints and drawings by over sixty artists. Drawing on the nineteenth century European Romantic tradition, the show surveys contemporary and historical connections to wonderment and dystopia at dusk, twilight, night and dawn.
Towards Night juxtaposes key paintings and prints by Constable, Friedrich, Munch, Nolde, Palmer and Turner, some of the best known visionaries of the Romantic tradition with contemporary artists who work with the transformative aspects of nightfall to convey emotional responses of awe, anxiety and solitude, love and loss, revelry, insomnia, and journey’s end.
The exhibition opens with direct and positive responses to the natural world; Marc Chagall’s exotic dreamlike evening in The Poet Reclining (1915) sits close to eighteenth century Indian miniatures depicting brightly painted
figures offset against darkening monsoon clouds, and William Crozier’s Balcony at Night, Antibes (2007), of a plant, blue and iridescent against the cool night sky.
As the exhibition progresses, the dystopias become darker and more disturbing, and the connections between artists and works intensify: Emma Stibbon’s Rome Aqueduct (2011) takes on a heightened sense of pathos alongside Caspar David Friedrich’s Winter Landscape (1811); Peter Doig’s cinematic Echo Lake (1998) conjures up an increased sense of contemporary angst; and Prunella Clough’s False Flower (1993), a magical tree defying brutalism by growing out of concrete, becomes more miraculous near Night Shift (2015) Nick Carrick’s tomblike high rise. Tom Hammick’s Violetta Alone (2015) and Michael Craig Martin’s Ash Tray (2015), reinforce hedonistic aspects of night-time revelry alongside Four AM, Betsy Dadd’s young woman drinking in the early hours of the morning and L.S. Lowry’s drunken people in a pub in The Crowd (1922). In the final room, a cluster of works explores dreams and insomnia, from Louise Bourgeois’ Spirals (2010) to Munch’s lovers embracing in The Kiss (1902).
Tom Hammick, curator of the show said “This exhibition has grown way beyond its original conception, to become a magnificent survey of painting and printmaking from over two hundred years based around the central tenet of night. The exhibition is a kind of painterly response to the way figurative artists use their artistic heroes as starting points for their own work, both compositionally and emotionally.”
Artists featured in Towards Night: Christiane Baumgarter, Michael Craig-Martin, Julian Opie, Will Gill, Merlin James, Howard Hodgkin, WillIam Scott, Patrick Caulfield, George Shaw, Stephen Chambers, Basil Beattie, Betsy Dadd, Christopher Le Brun, L.S Lowry, Andrew Cranston, David Willetts, James Fisher, Emma Stibbon, Vija Celmins, William Blake, William Crozier, Tom Hammick, Georgia Keeling, Helen Turner, Humphrey Ocean, Julian Bell, Craigie Aitchison, Mark Wright, Ken Kiff, Matthew Burrows, Andrzej Jackowski, Sarah Raphael, Nick Bodimeade, Nick Carrick, Mary Newcomb, Hurvin Anderson, Peter Doig, Phoebe Unwin, Danny Markey, Sara Lee, Simon Burton, Susie Hamilton, Marc Chagall, Alfred Wallis, Emil Nolde, J.M.W. Turner, Prunella Clough, Samuel Palmer, Louise Bourgeois, Caspar David Friedrich, Alex Katz, Ewan Gibbs, Susie Hamilton, Andrzej Jackowski, Amanda Vesey, Edward Stott, Gertrude Hermes, Rose Wylie, Sidney Nolan, John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, Emil Nolde, Hiroshige, Edvard Munch, Samuel Palmer, Eileen Cooper, Charles Neame-Spencer, Samantha Cary.
Marc Chagall (1887-1985), The Poet Reclining, 1915. Oil on cardboard. Photograph © Tate, London 2016. Chagall ® / © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016
Peter Doig, Echo Lake, 1998, Tate: Presented by the Trustees in honour of Sir Dennis and Lady Stevenson (after Lord and Lady Stevenson of Coddenham), © Peter Doig. All Rights Reserved, DACS
Tom Hammick, Waiting for Time, 2016. © Tom Hammick, care of Hammick Editions
Emma Stibbon, Rome, Aqueduct, 2011. Photographer Stuart Bruce
Gertrude Hermes, Through the Windscreen, 1929. Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne. © Gertude Hermes Estate
Tom Hammick, Violetta Alone, 2015. Oil on canvas. © Tom Hammick, care of Hammick Editions
William Blake, I want, I want, Plate 9, for the Sexes; the Gates of Paradise (P.444-1885), c. 1793 – 1818 ©The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge