A Golden Opportunity: Frank Auerbach at the Tate Britain, London

Megan Fatharly, Online Arts Editor, encourages art-lovers to visit the Frank Auerbach exhibition at Tate Britain


Until March this year, the Tate Britain is displaying the work of Berlin born artist, Frank Auerbach.  In December, I was fortunate to be given the chance to visit the exhibition to see the painter’s work first hand.  I was first told about the exhibition by Fine Art graduate Joanna Hulin, whose work echoes his highly emotive art, where the viewer intensely engages with the subject matter.

Primarily a figurative and landscape painter the exhibition showcases many of his paintings. The chaotic, expressive application of paint suggests a high level of movement within his work. However, each mark tells a narrative, whilst the sense of anguish in some of his paintings and drawings is tied up within the paint.  The bold strokes have suggestions of confidence but the artist is very careful about ensuring his painting fits his image of it. This is shown through the application of paint. Until Auberbach is satisfied with the image/painting he will work layer upon layer and sometimes will scrape away a day’s work in pursuit of this.

While his paintings have a striking use of media and layering, it is his drawings and etchings in the exhibition that really appealed to me. The dramatic use of light and dark to create these highly atmospheric portraits has been beautifully crafted. One of the first images from the exhibition is ‘Head of E.O.W’, and this is a great start to the show and shows the great diversity of his work.

I was amazed at the sheer size of some of his larger paintings and the application of layers and layers of paint. Some of the larger pieces dominated over the small pieces of work but it was great to see a wide range of his work on display in the flesh.

For more information you can visit the Tate Britain website to book tickets and view more of his work.