Galleries - February 2010

T RIPLE VISION BLAIR HUGHES-STANTON After early exposure to extreme Modernism at Leon Underwood’s remarkable private art school in Brook Green in the 1920s – where he met, among others, his first wife, the etcher and sculptor Gertrude Hermes, and became friends with Henry Moore – and with his wider interests in painting, Blair Hughes-Stanton has always stood somewhat apart from the mainstream of the English wood engraving revival of the interwar years. And, in this show at the North House Gallery (where he lived before his death in 1981), the fourth in a series of exhibitions or- ganised there by his daughter Penny over the last decade or so, it is just these intriguing connec- tions between his graphic work and his painting, particularly ap- parent in the period 1929-1939, that forms its principal focus. Al- though he had a long and influen- tial post-war career as a teacher in London art schools, this can also perhaps be regarded as the most powerfully creative period of his life, a brief but intense friendship with D.H. Lawrence (some of whose work he illustrated) before his death in 1930, filling both the paintings – powerfully influenced by Picasso – and the wood-en- gravings of the time, with an un- mistakable sensual energy and an austere economy of means. N U CLOSSICK/HELD Though outwardly very different in both their approaches to colour and subject matter, Peter Clossick and Julie Held share a common belief in the power of the painted surface to transform and engage with the world imaginatively. It makes for an inspired double bill, with which to mark the return of the Bound- ary Gallery to its old home, further up Boundary Road, after a two year or more exile following the re- pair of severe structural damage caused by developers. Peter Clos- sick, whose work has been nicely described as situated in the “Bombstream” – the combined strands of Bombergian painterli- ness and Coldstream-influenced visual rigour – is an artist who al- ways somehow seems, at the same time, to transcend these powerful influences, his nudes, still-lifes and portraits tough and austere but, at the same time, al- ways filled with vigour and emo- tional warmth. Something to do with the unexpected delicacy of his colour perhaps? Julie Held’s interiors, cityscapes and flower pieces, on the other hand, pos- sess a full-blown and engaging richness of colour and fluidity of handling and, by that mysterious business of paint texture, she also succeeds in infusing her subjects with powerful resonances of mem- ory and sensation. NU JENNY WHEATLEY With a subject matter that ranges from Cuba to the Lake District and from the South of France to London, Mevagissey and St Ives, and working in both oils and watercolour, Jenny Wheatley must surely be one of the best-travelled and most versatile (not to say energetic) artists at work in the country today. It could, in many artists’ hands, be a recipe for trouble, with every- thing tending to end up bland and formulaic. But, as her latest exhi- bition at Llewellyn Alexander makes very clear, she is much too sensitive and experienced an artist to fall into that kind of trap, her responsiveness to the particulari- ties of light and place, as well as her understandings of those great master colourists of 20th Century art, Matisse, Dufy and Chagall (and, one senses, also at times, English artists of the Ravilious/ Bawden persuasion), combining to give the work a quirkiness and freshness of viewpoint that is always enormously engaging. It helps, also, to be endowed with a remarkably un-English attitude to colour – glowing pinky-reds, rich violets and vivid yellows – and a bold, painterly touch. Worth noting too that she is also showing a group of interiors this month at the Jerram Gallery. Blake Hall 11. GALLERIES FEBRUARY 10 Jenny Wheatley ‘Picture Windows’ Llewellyn Alexander Peter Clossick ‘Two Skulls’ Boundary Gallery Blair Hughes-Stanton ‘The Beginning’ 1930 North House Gallery