by magda on Nov.24, 2010, under Art News, other stories

We would like to congratulate Basia Hamilton on her latest success at Marie Curie Cancer Research Auction.We also are grateful to Basia for sharing her thoughts with our readers.

I have often wondered why so few young people sit in front of beautiful

buildings and sketch nowadays. In museums like the V&A, when cameras surround Renaissance sculptures, why not record them by hand in our own sketchbook? For some time now, the V&A has provided little chairs which one can take and sit in front of the object and draw.

Modern art has detached us from the most wonderful images painted in the past centuries, the most extraordinary unique pictures, which take our breath away. There is no need to mention examples to understand what the word Art means, all it takes is a mere walk in the National Gallery, V&A or Somerset House, where there is currently a lovely exhibition of Cezanne’s card players which every visitor to London should see.

Trained as an abstract artist in Gdansk Academy of Art, I was led to believe that abstraction is the mode of our times. Our professors didn’t want us to feel ostracised by galleries around the world when we left the Academy, so we painted still lives made of odd things, inspiring us to create unrecognizable forms. It was great and thorough training but when I exhibited one self-portrait among my best compositions in Rome, everyone gathered around it and said, “If you can paint a face like that, why do you waste time doing abstract images.” From that day there was no turning back, I was showered with commissions and never stopped painting portraits.

I realised how much pleasure I can give to people, creating their form in a way that is both aesthetic to me and them. It is also a great challenge and adventure each time I sit in front of a new person. My exhibitions in London were always fully packed and my studio was buzzing with friends. The portraits on the walls dictated our conversations and the atmosphere.

We all know that Damian Hirst creations earn millions and are admired by the great world of art, so it was even more surprised when at an auction for Gala Chopins’s recent Concert for Marie Curie Cancer Care in the historical Guildhall, my portrait made £7000 whereas Damian Hurst’s drawing of a skull made £3000!

Maybe the tide will slowly change I thought, and more people will turn to traditional arts for comfort of the soul and pleasure of the eyes. We learn so much from the artists of the past, beautiful forms, composition and colours, plus the history and customs of past generations and cultures. For many centuries, the art of portraiture has represented a mirror to society. Artists like Rafael, Rembrandt and Reynolds left us not only beautiful images to look at, but also a documented history of the fashions and manners of their epoch.

Today’s world has so much to offer and I believe young people should pick up a pencil and paper and go around drawing buildings and people. Instead going to nightclubs where drinks are so expensive, they should turn their interest to practical art. Especially now with the economic crisis, as this pleasurable activity does not cost anything, just a wish to paint, learn and create. For Christmas, a lovely drawing of a mother, a pet or a house by a child will make a better present then anything chosen from a shop. A painting will charm and remain in the family for generations to come.

My top tip for visitors to London: museums, museums and again museums.

By Basia Hamilton Kaczmarowska

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