What is sin? To a bible-bashing Republican who spends his time stomping around his local Walmat while bellowing about the devil’s work, rainbow-hued t-shirts might be sinful. To me, anyone who nicks the last Hob-Nob is an irredeemable sinner worthy only of the nearest ducking stool. But sin – as a concept – has been with us since time immemorial and that has fed into numerous artworks down through the ages.
‘Sin: The Art of Transgression’ – organised by the National Gallery in London in conjunction with The Auckland Project – brings together works of art that span several centuries with all the pieces offering a different spin on sin. From theological takes, to everyday secular depictions of ‘sinful’ behaviour, boundaries are constantly blurred here.
One of the real highlights of the show is ‘Two Tax-Gatherers’ from the workshop of Marinus van Reymerswale. It’s an oil, from around the 1540s, but the two fellas it depicts are definitely no oil paintings. One writes in a ledger while the other, sneering features very much to the fore, grasps at a pile of coins. The pair – clad in expensive looking but ridiculous garb – are vilified by the artist for their bureaucratic and legalistic greed.
This exceptional painting is part of the National Gallery’s collection, but the exhibition will also include pieces on loan from more contemporary artists such as Tracey Emin, who remains one of the most interesting artists working in the UK today; and Ron Mueck, the Australian artist noted for his incredibly detailed, but unnerving, figurative sculptures.
The Auckland Project is quickly developing an enviable reputation for bringing nationally and internationally renowned works of art to Bishop Auckland. Indeed, last year’s display in the Spanish Gallery, featuring Salvador Dalí’s ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’, was a real blockbuster that was seen by thousands of people, and this latest show is yet another feather in their jaunty cap. In fact, it would be a sin to miss it. RM
Sin: The Art of Transgression, until 1 October, Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland. Entry is free with The Auckland Project annual pass, which also gives visitors access to The Auckland Project’s other attractions in Bishop Auckland including Auckland Castle Gardens, the Spanish Gallery, the Mining Gallery and the Faith Museum. The annual pass costs £25 for adults (with family tickets available) and is valid for 12 months. Other ticketing options also available: visit: aucklandproject.org
Pic: Workshop of Marinus van Reymerswale, Two Tax-Gatherers, probably 1540s, oil on oak, The National Gallery, London. Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876