Passion for Painting: The Art of Sir Winston Churchill features ten paintings and varied memorabilia at the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts at Wofford College. The exhibit ends September 16, 2017 and is free to the public.
I had read somewhere that Churchill painted. Oh really? Lot’s of politicians think they have artistic talent. Maybe their belief belies a mild case of narcissism: a “look at me, I can do everything better than you” vanity. Vladimir Putin likes to take his shirt off and do various things. Trump tweets extemporaneously. George W. Bush paints also but only if he remembers his numbers.
I admire Churchill for his perseverance against the Nazis, his writing, his leadership during the Battle of Britain, his being the right man at the right moment of history and his envious habit of sleeping late every day then dictating letters from his bath. He just never exuded a serious artistic persona in his coveralls, cigar and straw hat but Van Gogh was nothing to look at either – especially after his unfortunate ear incident.
My doubt was shattered when I walked into the Churchill exhibit. I was taken aback by the complexity of light, shading and color from the ten landscapes on display. Here was an extremely talented artist whose paintings were as vivid as his oratory yet deceptively subtle and relaxing.
The gallery was light, airy and empty except for one viewing bench in the center of the room. The bench afforded a direct line of sight to two paintings that drew me into them upon first glance and allowed me to leave time for a few moments. They were Boats at Cannes Harbour (1937) and Marrakech (1947).
Suspension of time marks a great painting. A catchword of the moment is “mindfulness” or living in the moment for you non-yoga types. Anxiety about the future has driven people to search for ways to avoid thinking about it. These faddish words come and go. Remember, just a few years ago everybody was saying “conundrum.” Before that it was “holistic.” Artists and art lovers alike have been practicing mindfulness for thousands of years. I have often practiced “mindlessness” but that is a story for another day assuming I can remember it.
I left the gallery wanting to view the 500 or so other paintings that Churchill created. Since they were not around, I took my son to see the exhibit the very next day where he and I sat silently on the bench, each of us lost in the colors before us before slipping down the street and partaking of a Sen. Glenn Reese original glazed Krispy Kreme. The creation of which remains another work of art.