Casgliad gwerthfawr o 49 o ddelweddau lliw yn adlewyrchu a dathlu cyfoeth ac amrywiaeth gwaith celf dros 40 o artistiaid Cymru mewn sawl cyfrwng o'r 16eg hyd yr 20fed ganrif, yn cynnwys paentiadau a cherfluniau adnabyddus a newydd, ynghyd â nodiadau cynhwysfawr am yr artistiaid a'u gwaith.
A valuable collection of 49 colour images reflecting and celebrating the richness and diversity of the work of over 40 Welsh artists in multi media from the 16th to the 20th centuries, comprising well-known and new paintings and sculptures, together with comprehensive notes on the artists and their work.
Painting the Dragon was written as an accompaniment to the BBC television series of that title and as a catalogue for the associated exhibition at the National Museum Gallery of Wales, Cardiff, both presented in 2000.
Instead of approaching the project as a distinct task, which would have its own identity, Anthony Jones has adhered to the format of the four television programmes. Furthermore, he spends a significant part of his text explaining how the programmes were devised and how the exhibition was put together. Television series and exhibitions are, by their nature, transitory and are related to the needs of a particular time. A book, however, does not have this limitation and should add to a dialogue in its own way. This fault in Painting the Dragon is even further exaggerated because the full-page illustrations, which take up nearly half the book, also follow the pattern established in the programmes. The result is that there are some strange juxtapositions of images; this, I felt, contributed to a lack of visual excitement and coherence. The fact that some images are printed on varied colour backgrounds doesn't enhance them, and it also caused puzzlement when I realised that the colour differentiation doesn't denote a new section.
The selection of artists and their work were personal to the author, although most are familiar to anyone with a general knowledge of Welsh art. Some, howevber, are unusual, and this is very welcome. I found the section on The Land the least interesting, perhaps because this has been written about so often before that it is difficult to present a fresh view. Memory and Imagination brings together the mystery of ancient spiritually charged places, such as Nevern Churchyard, and an intriguing mix of work by the artists John Meirion Morris, Iwan Bala, Ivor Davies and Ceri Richards. I found the section titled From Hell to Heaven the most interesting as here Anthony Jones provides numerous insights about the links between images of underground work and the passions of religious discovery. The Figure again seemed to present too big a theme and to create difficulties in making links between the various artists and their work.
Painting the Dragon generally suffers from the organisational problems of its mongrel pedigree whereas the context could have made a fresh and stimulating view on aspects of Welsh art.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.