I had the opportunity last weekend to drive to Ottawa to see the Carravaggio exhibit at the National Gallery. Notwithstanding the internal turmoil going on at the National Gallery (click on the Ottawa Citizen article to read more about it “Gallery Lays Off Five Curators”) the Gallery itself is always a pleasure to visit and the Carravaggio exhibit is truly remarkable. It leaves you wanting to see more than the dozen Carravaggio paintings on show–but what an experience to witness these paintings.
You can clearly see Carravaggio’s mastery of composition and technique as you view his impact on his followers and their work in the exhibition. There is a small painting by Reubens as part of the exhibit that is interesting yet it hardly registers any impact in the room when Carravaggio is present. There are two Carravaggio paintings on the Sacrifice of Issac which offer two different atmospheric approaches. Both are powerful statements –they carry an emotional impact that need to be seen in person to be truly appreciated. You can read a review of the exhbition at “Carravaggio at National Gallery: Extraordinary”
I also managed to view the Louise Bourgeios exhibition before leaving and it offers an completely different and very contemporary conclusion to the National Gallery visit. While her large foreboding sculpture “Maman” graces the front of the Gallery as you enter, the current exhibition offers a more intimate and personal view of the artist. To read more about her life and the exhbition see “Louise Bourgeois at the National Gallery” article from the Ottawa Citizen.
You can start your day at Benny’s Bistro for coffee and croissants and then walk up Murray Street to the National Gallery. Don’t forget the best kept secret about the National–its cafeteria offers an picturesque view of the Parliament buildings and the Rideau Canal while you dine. The food is not your typical cafeteria food either which is a pleasant surprise! I ordered their vegetarian option which was pretty good. And then its off on the “401” highway back to Toronto….