Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Review: Beryl Cook, Bristol City Museum

Jazz in the Winter, Beryl Cook Estate
I should probably say upfront that I wouldn't consider myself a fan of Beryl Cook. So, to get it out of the way, these paintings are garish and cheesy. However, they are also quite interesting, partly because they are totally unpretentious. They are just pictures of ordinary people doing ordinary things, like drinking, smoking, and playing music, painted with a great deal of humour and affection. Beryl's family also feature, doing ordinary things like sunbathing, or fixing a roof.

The exhibition also made me think how rare it is to see art by someone who so unashamedly enjoys life. She was obviously interested in partying, sex, clothes and food, in approximately that order, and there is not a shred of 'tortured-artist' ness going on anywhere. There is a sort of seaside 'dirty-postcard' look to her art, and although it ain't flattering to her subjects, they all look like they're enjoying themselves. Technically, as a cartoonist, she's brilliant.

Many of the paintings feature Plymouth and Bristol. I hadn't even realised, until I saw the exhibition, that she'd lived in Bristol for some years.

Although I don't desperately like Beryl Cook's paintings, I would have happily gone out drinking with her, any night of the week. She obviously loved her life, and she obviously loved painting, and there's something hugely cheering about this.

Beryl Cook: Larger than Life is on at Bristol City Museum until 29th August

No comments:

Post a Comment