Galleries - October 2015

OCTOBER 2015GALLERIES 61 expressive truthfulness of mark- making that Bomberg demanded was always an inspiration rather than a straight jacket. That is very apparent in the solo show of paintings by Miles Richmond at Messum’s, who was a founding member of the Borough Group and taught alongside Bomberg at Ronda in southern Spain for some years. His bold, richly coloured paintings and muscular, vigorous charcoal drawings clearly reflect his teacher’s example while at the same time, quite unmistakably being his own. His observation that “we both look out and look in, and the world is literally within the mind of our complex identity” gets close to Bomberg’s genius as a teacher. The final exhibition, Dennis Creffield at James Hyman is entitled ‘Paintings of Innocence and Experience’ and covers some seven decades of work. It establishes Creffield as a figure deserving wider acclaim, alongside Kossoff and Auerbach. A guided walk and talk is being organised between the galleries on 12 October. Details from the galleries. Nicholas Usherwood A global view In mid September, the National Gallery announced that it had hung its first Australian work of art. Taken on its own, the piece is not extraordinary, nor is it extraordinarily different from the pieces that already occupy the gallery 43, where it is hanging for the duration of its loan. Painted Borough boys & girls Art teaching in London after the war was somewhat in the doldrums. The great days of the Royal College of Art, Chelsea and St Martin’s were still some distance in the future and Paris still the dominant influence. The really significant stuff was often happening in the margins, not least the evening classes by master of early British Modernism, David Bomberg at the Borough Polytechnic from 1945. It now reads like a role call of a whole, vital strand of late 20th C. British painting – Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff among the most famous names but it includes many others such as Dennis Creffield, Miles Richmond and Dorothy Mead. With Auerbach’s major retrospective at Tate Britain opening later this month (and also a show at Marlborough), a group of Mayfair galleries are mounting top-notch exhibitions. First up is Waterhouse & Dodd whose show, ‘David Bomberg and his students at the Borough Polytechnic’, focuses on artists who went on to form the Borough Group and subsequent Borough Bottega. Bomberg and Kossoff are here (though not Auerbach) but so are many others – Mead, Richmond and Creffield as above but also Leslie Marr, Lilian Bomberg, Cliff Holden and others. What’s impressive is that for all Bomberg’s obvious influence on their subsequent work, how vital and individual each became and remained. The by Sir Arthur Streeton in 1890, ‘Blue Pacific’ exhibits the immediacy of light and the sympathy to colour that runs through the works of Impressionist paintings, which Streeton, based in Victoria, openly admired. The view of Sydney Harbour, in which the line of ragged cliff edge is emphasised by the painting’s vertical orientation, is foreign in subject but familiar in feel. Still ‘Blue Pacific’ is important. It is only the second painting in the National Gallery’s collection which was produced outside of Western Europe. This may seem a rather ponderous turn on the part of the museum. In fact, setting self-consciously narrow parameters around its narrative is a good move on the part of the Museum. Though striving to be less than global may be out- dated, the quest to be universal can still be laden with agenda. An extreme example is Universal History of Art, published in Moscow in 1956. Though the work does include chapters on subjects diverse as Azerbaijani, Ceylonese and Swiss art, its final volume is devoted to socialist countries – with a third dedicated to the USSR. Not that either the National Gallery or Streeton’s painting need be understood in terms of Soviet art historical practice. Still, it casts these small, well-considered concessions on the part of the National Gallery in a good light, and even in change, its story of the history of art is clear. Frances Allitt CODA David Bomberg ‘The River Tajo, Toledo’ Waterhouse & Dodd Miles Richmond ‘St Paul’s, London’ Messum’s