Saturday, 16 February 2019

Intriguing exhibitions

Attending art exhibitions and visiting museums are two of my favourite pastimes; when I have time, I also write the reviews.

You can find my art reviews here:


Before Christmas I spent a whole day in London with my husband binging on museums and art galleries. We popped into Abbot and Holder on Museum street to see the astonishing sketches of Yolanda Sonnabend. Her costume designs are simply marvellous, no wonder she worked for the Royal Opera House. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and had a brilliant artistic life. Her work is engaging in its colours and slender lines, challenging and innovative. Some of the works on display at the gallery can be considered abstract paintings, the
brushstrokes defying the figurative style of costume design, forming a framework of lines that evokes the outfit without stating it clearly.

We also visited the exhibition I am Ashurbanipal king of the world, king of Assyria at the British Museum, just round the corner. The exhibition reveals the incredible power of his empire that stretched from eastern Mediterranean to western Iran. Nineveh was the capital, a big city surrounded by walls. Symbols of the dynasty’s power were the human-headed winged bulls that protected the gates of the city. Both Ashurbanipal and the kings before him, built magnificent palaces decorated with carved wall panels painted in bright colours that represented the story of their achievements. The lion hunting, represented in some of these panels, symbolised the king’s bravery and his capacity to defeat the forces of chaos and maintain order. The king had an absolute power he expanded thanks to his mastery in taking command of the formidable Assyrian army. It was a war machine that conquered and subjugated the territories of today’s Iraq, Egypt, Iran and Middle East. Of course, wealth and slaves came from all over the empire.

A video interestingly highlights scenes of battles on a large stone panel explaining them by using captions. Though Ashurbanipal was so powerful throughout his life, his decline and death remain a mystery. His final years are not recorded and after his death (probably around 638 BC) the Assyrian empire collapsed. The Iranian army sacked Nineveh and the tombs of the kings were looted. The city was set on fire and his sons were killed.

The exhibition also shows an interesting timeline that points out the archaeological excavations from early 19th century till today, and how the archaeologists tried to protect the heritage sites during the two Gulf wars. However, there are still remains to uncover buried under the sand of the desert waiting to be discovered and studied.
After the exhibition, walking towards Tottenham Court Road underground station, we couldn’t miss Cornelissen, the art shop on Great Russell street. They have unique origami paper that tempted my husband, and sets of colours you cannot find online or in ordinary shops. The place in itself is fascinating in its old style and wooden cupboards. I couldn’t help spending some money taking advantage of a discount thanks to my university card.

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