Fragments of a Classical Twilight
29 November - 21 December 2018
John Martin Gallery is delighted to present their second exhibition by the acclaimed watercolour painter, Hugh Buchanan. The exhibition is a celebration of the last great age of Classical architecture a period which reached its zenith at the start of the 20th Century; a period that we now almost universally take for granted. To modern taste, the lavish interiors of London’s Livery Companies or the Gilded Age mansions of Rhode Island might seem overwhelming, but through the careful selection of exquisitely observed details Buchanan brilliantly evokes the poetry of those buildings. The silhouette of a garden urn painted in the darkening blues of twilight, or a single damask chair bathed in sunshine bring back the elegance and magic of their surroundings as if encountered for the first time. He delights in the almost minimalist precision of the stonework in Philadelphia and even discovers a surprisingly stark brutalism in the steps leading up to the Victor Emmanuel monument in Rome. This is a period of architecture that needs to find a champion with more than just passion and knowledge, it requires someone who can show us how to see the buildings with fresh eyes, to discover the vitality of their design and the breathtaking craftmanship with which they were built. Buchanan succeeds because architecture only serves as the underlying structure to the painting; primarily his watercolours tell the story an encounter with a building at a particular moment in time – the memory of light falling across a wall, or the perfect combination of colours in a room. Buchanan helps us understand that it is the ability to tease out those intangible and fleeting qualities, that remains the defining quality of the greatest architecture.