Date night

On Thursday night Tom and I drove into town and after work we went on a date. We’d picked the date long ago so it was something to look forward to.

Two things I think are important: 1. having something to look forward to (no matter how small it is or how far in the future) and 2. going on the occasional date with the person you love, regardless of how long you’ve been together.

Our date started with dinner at the sushi train on Courtenay Place. A sushi train is where little plates of sushi travel along a conveyor belt and you pick off what you’d like. There’s generally a colour-coded plate system with some plates being cheaper (seaweed) and some more expensive (scallops).

We then went to Te Papa to see the European Masters show. The show was stunning (we went around and back and around so saw it three times) and I was really struck by the vividness of the colour, the lighting (both of the exhibition and the use of light in the paintings themselves) and Tom and I both by the detail. We spent a lot of time in front of Thousand Year Old Oak (first part of the exhibition) astounded by the detail in every part of the picture.

Tom also loved this painting for similar reasons and for the care taken over the detail of the background when the foreground was the subject.

Within the show there is a huge range of work – from small to large, painterly to controlled, painting to sculpture. Although there are a number of popular big names, it was often the works that were lesser known to me that I enjoyed most because I took the time to really look at them properly. We also went on late night Thursday so while there were a lot of people in the exhibition, it was easy to see each painting and most people were adults so the gallery was quiet.

The two paintings I was most awe-struck to see was this familiar Renoir work (right) that we must have had on a tin or something at home when I was growing up, and a work by Degas. Having loved art, and being introduced to great artists when I was at high-school it was astonishing to see the paintings of the people you’d read about in books or seen reproduced over and again.

Standing in front of Renoir you can see the detail, the magnificent colour and the luminosity of the work. Some smart designer had also put a comfy seat in front of it for those who were struck like I was.

Being trained, and having worked in exhibitions at Te Papa for over five years, I know what makes a good show technically and this I couldn’t fault. My one curmudgeon is usually labels but these were easy to read, positioned at a good height and not overcast by shadow.

At $22.50 a ticket for an adult, this is one of Te Papa’s more expensive exhibitions (if not the most) but well worth the price of entry. The show is only on until 27 Feburary, so closes soon and I’d highly recommend a visit. Thursday nights are usually good because less people know the museum stays open until 9pm.

This painting is huge in real life but there's something strange about the man's leg. It's his right leg but has been painted like it's his left. His leg also looks too long - I would argue the bed of his knee should have sat right where the cloth ends, not 15cm after.



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