Frameless – remarkable exhibition brings art to glorious life all around you

Remarkable. One moment you are battling down Oxford Street. The next you are swooping in a swirl of surrealist imagery taking you to the strangest of worlds. One moment you are thinking that Oxford Street really isn’t what it used to be. The next you are watching Van Gogh dissolve into Seurat dissolve into Morisot dissolve into Monet.
Frameless - pic by Phil HewittFrameless - pic by Phil Hewitt
Frameless - pic by Phil Hewitt

If you are missing the superb Van Gogh Alive which charmed Brighton over the summer, then Frameless – housed within the newly developed Marble Arch Place, at the meeting point of Oxford Street, Mayfair and Hyde Park (tickets on – needs to be your next port of call. Boasting 42 masterpieces across four galleries, Frameless, so much more ambitious in scale, takes the immersive art experience to the next level, breaking down the great works of art and reassembling them to take you to the very heart of their creation.

The first gallery promises to take you Beyond Reality to merge and mix Klimt, Dali, Rousseau and Munch et al as you have never seen them before, mirrors and projections shifting everything, not least the ground beneath your feet. The ground pulls away from you as changing, intersecting, overlaying worlds unravel around you, creating a genuine sense of magic. There was a little girl in a Hedwig T-shirt amongst us, waving a Harry Potter wand. After a little while, you sensed she genuinely felt she was making it all happen. You couldn’t honestly say she wasn’t!

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The next gallery Colour In Motion takes things at a much less bewildering, much more leisurely pace to focus on the brush stroke itself. And it is here that Van Gogh and Monet, Metzinger and Signac come alive successively. Again, the emphasis is on immersion. This is art all around you. You are completely swallowed up by it. Gallery three is The World Around Us, the domain of Cezanne, Rubens, Turner, Canaletto and Rembrandt among others. Here you are thrown into the full drama of Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee; perhaps more impressively, Piazza San Marco, in late 1720s, envelopes you completely. You will swear you are there. The Art of Abstraction is the theme of the final room – Kandinsky, Klee, Mondrian and Delaunay among others welcoming you into their alien world of sharp colours and geometric shapes. On a mega busy Saturday afternoon, with its maze-like set-up, perhaps it’s the most difficult room to enjoy. You need space to savour it, but even so, the impression it leaves is profound.

Van Gogh Alive in Brighton obviously had the single focus. You also came away feeling you had learnt something. Vastly different in scale, Frameless is much more about making you feel – and it does so to a remarkable degree. Tumbling back out into the Oxford Street crowds at the end of it all really is the strangest, jolting sensation – a measure of just how special the worlds are that Frameless creates. It presents as directly as you possibly can the imaginations of some of our greatest artists. And it does so with an innovation and imagination thoroughly worthy of them. A terrific visit if you are in London – and worth the journey if you are not!

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