Painting London

From today and over the next six weeks the National Gallery will be open for a very exclusive ‘performance art’ display in Room 1. The room will be open to the public to view the last intricate stage of Ben Johnson’s latest offering. You will be able to witness Ben and his assistants adding the final few strokes to the panorama of London looking out from the National Gallery’s rooftop over Trafalgar Square and Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament. His inspiration for the piece has come from Canaletto’s The Stonemason’s Yard, and you can see some resemblance in the perspective and detail.

The process has been very precise, starting with photographs taken from the rooftop then converting them digitally in to a grid based system, turning these into laser cut stencils and finally applying hundreds of colours by hand and spray-gun. Despite the complexity of the final stages Johnson vows not to be put off by the watchful visitors “To look up and see people watching will make me concentrate on what I am doing and it will throw me in on myself – and that’s when I make my best work.”

You can go along to see Ben Johnson: Modern Perspectives from today (8/12/2010) until January 23. Entrance is free. More details here.

Posted: December 2010

Author: Slate

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