PIERRE BONNARD: THE COLOUR OF MEMORY | London, Tate Modern

Throughout this vibrant exploration of Pierre Bonnard’s paintings, there is sensitivity, awareness and celebration of the female form, and a curiosity about the most prosaic and private rituals. His paintings capture what almost seem to be casual moments: a woman glimpsed through a doorway, or at her toilette; it is fascinating to see such throwaway moments recorded so painstakingly.

One of the show’s highlights is its presentation of the intimate world of Bonnard and his long-term partner and wife, Marthe de Méligny. The tenderness between them is apparent throughout the exhibition – especially in Bonnard’s painting of his wife in the bath as she struggled with illness later in life, which is instilled with an unmistakable sorrow.

But his other paintings are also expert; objects littering tables and the detritus of the everyday are elevated into masterful still lifes. As well as landscapes, there are beautifully descriptive paintings of interiors, with open windows and doors revealing leafy gardens. Bonnard is a master of light: you can feel the warmth of the afternoons in his paintings, and each work conjures up a feast for the senses.

The supporting material throughout the exhibition — which includes letters, photographs and a short film — bring the artist to life, while a map with pins showing all of the places he lived offers helpful context. Understandably, this show is very popular, and visitors should ideally have the opportunity to avoid the weekend and visit “off-peak”: these magnificent paintings need space to breathe.

This special exhibition continues at Tate Modern until 6 May 2019.

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