Galleries magazine - page 12

Witha major touring show
opening at the Middlesbrough
Institute of Modern Art and
another – part of which makes up
this month’s show at
– having just closed at
Abbot Hall in Kendal, Winifred
Nicholson's reputation is currently
enjoying a huge resurgence of
interest. Entitled 'Winifred in
Cumberland', it explores her
lifelong connection withthe
county in which she was born, in
1893, and to which, despite
various artistic peregrinations in
Europe, notably the avant-garde
Paris of the 1930s (where she had
a flat for some years) and
friendships with Mondrian et al,
she always seemed emotionally
bound to return.
Her main base over muchof
her life was a remote farmhouse
on Hadrian's Wall, Bankshead,
where she lived with Ben
Nicholson for some years and
which, in the late 20s, became a
sort of salon for young
experimental artists, Christopher
(Kit) Wood notable among them.
“My paintings talk in colour”
she once observed, and colour
was to remain at the heart of her
practice throughout her life, and
though she painted a large
number of quiet, intense
Cumbrian landscape subjects, it
is always really in painting flowers
that her true gifts and originality
as a colourist can be seen at their
height. In this she was herself
something of a late flowering
bloom, her long standing interest
in optical prisms rekindled by
conversations with the physicist
Professor Glen Schaefer in 1975,
leading her, already in her 80s, to
produce the most daringly
luminous paintings of her career.
“I found out what the flowers
know, how to divide the colours
as prisms do...and in doing so
giving the luminosity and
brilliance of pure colour.”
The Crane Kalman exhibition
forms part of the gallery’s 60th
birthday celebrations.
Thinking about Naomi Frears'
latest group of paintings at
I kept remembering Frank
O'Hara's wonderfully accurate
poem on the often bizarrely
indirect, crab-like nature of the
creative process, 'Why I am not a
Painter,' in which, over a series of
studio visits to his friend Michael
Goldberg, a painting that starts off
depicting sardines, then
transforms simply into letters,
finally goes on show in a gallery
entitled 'Sardines'.
Her paintings, with their often
eccentric juxtapositions of
imagery and title, create whole
narratives, not necessarily our
own, of evocative emotional
ambiguity, full of melancholy and
a sense of separateness, or
apartness, from the world. A
figure derived from a sketch in a
book of a youthful Walt Whitman,
surmounted by a halo consisting
of an upside down outline motif of
a rocky landscape and entitled
‘British Summer Time’, is just one
such example.
Frears herself has observed of
this highly distinctive quality in
her work that it is as though she
finds herself telling the story in
other people's lives. However you
choose to characterise her work
though, it makes Frears yet
another welcome voice in that
increasingly diverse community of
St Ives and Cornwall based
artists, her first London solo show,
hopefully the first of many.
With more galleries choosing web
‘premises’ over bricks and mortar,
a ‘change of exhibition’ online
heralds a new virtual hanging.
Representing idiosyncratic
painters and historically
promoters of naive art (Kit
Williams, Beryl Cook and more),
Portal Painters
is one such
gallery who works online and at
major art fairs.
This month’s exhibition
includes new work by Lizzie
Riches (painting Persephone who
was condemned to the
Underworld after eating
pomegranate seeds) as well as
Steve Easby, Peter Layzell and
Heather Nevay.
from left
izzie Riches
‘Persephone’ Portal Painters
Winifred Nicholson ‘South Parlour’ Crane Kalman
Naomi Frears ‘Garçon!’ Beaux Arts
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