Galleries - September 2016

(b.1923) shows his most recent work alongside that of his mother Phyllis Eyton (1900-1929). It highlights a contrast between a painter with one of the longest and most distinguished of careers – at 93 still painting and seen as among the fines figurative painters of his generation – and one of the shortest, and most distinctly promising – Phyllis died in a riding accident just nine years after leaving Heatherly’s Art School. She was however, already immensely well regarded as a landscape painter of distinctive and poetic subtlety – ’a rising star’ in Augustus John’s opinion. This is, in truth, the first time Phyllis Eyton’s work has been shown to a wider public and you can really see what Augustus John and indeed William Orpen were on about in a work like ‘Haystack’ for example – direct and painterly, they could have been painted in 2016 quite as easily as the 1920s. A huge loss to 20th century British art but also a wonderful rediscovery. NU quietly all his life in the terraced house where he was born in the South Wales mining town of Abertillery. When he showed his work, it was swooped on by collectors. An exhibition at the Kooywood Gallery includes a small selection that were released from his studio after his death, making the news last year. He walked away from a scholarship at the Royal College of Art in 1963, wishing to avoid being influenced by tutors and students, and he preserved a distinctive vision all his life. It encompassed the female figure, myth and shamanism, the landscape and history of the coalfield, sometimes all in one. His gem-like pastels and bold paintings are enticingly poetic. Other works were layered in mixed media, scratched and burnished, so their surfaces seemed like miracles. A book on Roger Cecil is due out next year. Also at the Kooywood are Pete Monaghan’s paintings of scruffy corners of Wales (all corrugated iron and telephone poles), Robert McPartland’s urbane, super-realist still lifes and Matthew Wood’s joyously painterly mountain and coastal landscapes. PW There is a huge poignancy at the heart of Browse & Darby’s September exhibition ‘Capturing Light’ in which Anthony Eyton RA Blindness ought, by definition, to be the ultimate prohibition for a painter. Not in Sargy Mann’s case. The point at which his sight finally failed, in 2005, after two decades of struggle, marked ten years in which his art took off on a ‘late period’ of exuberant, colouristic adventure that is unprecedented in contemporary British art and fascinating concrete evidence of the fact that we do not simply see with the optic nerves but, via our visual cortex, with our mind also. Taking up a brush shortly after leaving hospital just to see what would happen, if anything, and putting some ultramarine blue on his brush “I saw in my head the canvas turn blue”, the same then happening with some magenta. He was away and, with huge family support and technical ingenuity, above all from his wife the artist Frances Mann, he painted prolifically and quite beautifully right up to his death just over a year ago. If this is hard to credit, see the show of his works on paper at Cadogan Contemporary, and be profoundly moved. NU Roger Cecil may be one of the greatest abstract artists Britain has produced, but he is also one of the least known. He painted SEPTEMBER 2016 GALLERIES 9 from left R ichard Walker‘Pink Posing Patti’ Curwen Gallery Phyllis Eyton ‘Haystack’ Browse & Darby Matthew Lanyon ‘Holiday Tracks’ New Craftsman Gallery Felix Anaut ‘Opus’ Zimmer Stewart Sargy Mann ‘Penny’s House in Normandy’ Cadogan Contemporary Roger Cecil ‘No 20’ Kooywood Gallery S argy Mann Roger Cecil Phyllis & Anthony Eyton contributors: Pip Palmer, Nicholas Usherwood Peter Wakelin