|Ron Mueck's woman carrying sticks|
Next I went to a gallery I hadn't heard of previously, Pippy Houldsworth, just off Regents Street. The gallery was hosting a show where artist couples collaborated on a piece together. It was very lively and stimulating. In some of the work you could see two different hands at work, in others the collaboration was completely enmeshed.
Gallery 4 was Lucian Freud at the National Portrait Gallery, still really busy well into its run. Since I've started trying to paint people, I couldn't not go to this. You don't need me to tell you he was an amazing painter. Just his ability to mix colours was extraordinary. Looking at his images of nudes, both male and female, completely laid open, the artist I felt he connected to was Sickert, who had a similarly consuming gaze. There were some incredible late paintings where the 'bodies' were just laid around the artist's studio like corpses, in one case there was an extra body sticking out from under the bed where the main model lay with a dog. The paint gradually took on a rather terrifying blistered appearance as though it was reacting on the canvas, bubbling and scabbing. It was very powerful. You felt the rather fetid atmosphere of the studio with its grubby mattresses and piles of rags and it seemed like a ward in a field hospital where the 'disease' of art was being battled like a burning fever.