It had been a while since I had caught up with design school pal Mandy and the usual rendez-vous point (Tate Modern) was hosting Paul Klee – not an artist I knew much about – but one I wouldn’t mind getting to know a little better.
I love days out like this. Catching up on the latest interior design projects, swapping experiences, thoughts on new trends and then immersing into an hour or two of art before emerging, ready for lunch, in the members room!
Initially, I didn’t warm to Klee (pronounced Clay in case, like me, you didn’t know). His art was small (in size not quantity) and he was very organised – cataloguing each piece with achingly neat precision. I’ve always thought that art and administration (or organisation) were on opposite ends of the personality spectrum but here was someone who clearly could do both. Could they?
Anyway, Tate does exhibitions extremely well and you are soon part of Klee’s world of inter-war darkness, political intimidation and personal loss. And yet, despite this context Klee manages to continue his teaching (he becomes involved with the Bauhaus) and his painting. He develops his style, his use of colour, his depiction of light and of atmosphere to the point where you are staring at a series of lines and blocks called ”Fire in the evening”, you know he’s painting in Egypt and you start to get it. The painting is quiet, subtle, warm and vast all at the same time. Klee is not about reproducing what is in front of us he is about portraying what we can’t necessarily see and “making visible” (the title of the exhibition) those things through colour, light and shape.
From an interior design perspective I was mesmerised by his combining of different colours to evoke mood and atmosphere. I loved his use of toning – making things lighter and darker by overlaying colours on top of each other and what that does to perspective and to the focal point in a painting. I was thrilled by his experiments with a wide variety of styles – again something that I come across in interior design. A large proportion of his work is abstract but within that there are overtones of cubism, of Picasso, maybe of Matisse – so a huge variety.
Needless to say we both loved it and came away inspired!