How do you begin to review an online art exhibition? That was the question I asked myself, between the second and the third glass of wine. Sitting in my flat, staring at a computer screen. So many aspects of our lives have now been reduced to this. Isolated, deprived of the world’s sights, sounds and natural rhythms. Stepping into an exhibition is an experience that cannot be translated into a virtual setting. And we shouldn’t even try.
Edinburgh Palette’s recent ‘About Time’ exhibition showcased the work of Constantine, a Greek artist who has made Edinburgh his home. Gazing at his painting through electric blue light, I wasn’t transported. But the work speaks for itself. Perhaps in this brave new world shorn of sensory experience, there’s a purity that we can salvage.
These were portraits wrought in mythological, Mediterranean grandeur. There was a hypermasculinity etched into the elongated jaw lines of these Bucephalus-like men (and these characters were almost all men). Constantine has a knack for concentrating nuance and complexity in eyes: dark little pools of shadow that communicate something haunting.
The Mediterranean lives in Constantine’s colour palette: individuals stand against a background of gentle but exuberant pastel.
His characters are real people imbued with a herculean greatness. This juxtaposition of the heroic and the mundane is what makes his work equal parts affecting and uplifting. ‘Greaser’ was my particular favourite – this chap’s heroic jawline was set in stoic opposition to the hell fires of industry which raged all around him.
Edinburgh Palette has started showing online exhibitions with the onset of coronavirus. “After many cancelled workshops, classes and exhibitions, it was evident that the ‘new normal’ would be online, at least for a while anyway. The online exhibitions are used as a means to keep art exhibiting alive during these uncertain times.”
Perhaps this is the attitude we should all be adopting. The aim, for now, is simply to keep things ticking over. Is it as good as the real thing? No, obviously not. But there can be heroism and purity in the mundane and functional.
Image: Young Lovers, Constantine. Courtesy of Edinburgh Palette.