Colour and wit from Krut and Jerwood

Ansel Krut, Thuggish Houses, 2012 � the artist, courstesy Modern Art SUS-140527-105444001
Ansel Krut, Thuggish Houses, 2012 � the artist, courstesy Modern Art SUS-140527-105444001

Ansel Krut & Philip Hughes

Jerwood Gallery, Hastings

Review by Trevor Harvey

I knew I was going to enjoy Ansel Krut’s work as soon as I entered the Jerwood’s main gallery: colourful and witty paintings will always get my attention.

The show, titled ‘Verbatim’, features 13 pieces by the South African artist, some not previously seen in the UK.

There is a lively imagination at play here. The childish delight apparent in some scatological references is combined with knowing hints at art history: I noted something of Picasso’s ‘Three Dancers’ and of Courbet’s controversial ‘The Origin of the World’.

A wall text quotes Krut as saying: ‘I want to make images that don’t allow you to settle on any certainties’, and despite some explicit titles there is always scope for alternative interpretations here.

Those mussels might be halves of melons, the butterfly has many strange components, while ‘The Primrose Path’ offers many opportunities for dalliance.

I thought I saw Groucho Marx in ‘Giants of Modernism #2’, but maybe Krut had Sigmund Freud in mind?

I wondered if there should be a prize for the best explanation of Krut’s title ‘Thuggish Houses’ (pictured).

But I’m sure the artist knows that, ultimately, we the viewers are in charge. I thought those houses looked rather jolly.

Ansel Krut continues until July 9.

With a title like ‘Coastlines’ you might expect the room devoted to Philip Hughes to be quite straightforward, but I needed more time to appreciate his work.

The best starting point proved to be the display case of sketch books.

These grant us the rare privilege of seeing an artist’s first thoughts about what’s important in the view before him, and include notes on how Hughes was feeling at that moment.

On the walls is a variety of ways of looking at landscape, from a wide aerial view in a print of Dungeness, to studies of quartz veins in a cliff and a stain on the beach.

Hughes’ work is the first of a series of one-room ‘Spotlight’ displays of contemporary art which is for sale.

This one runs until June 8.

Rooms upstairs continue to show a selection from the Jerwood collection.