Galleries - May 2018

JosefHerman, Jankiel Adler and Feliks Topolski are perhaps the most familiar names from the wartime (and even before) diaspora ofPolish artists to this country, but there were so many more, less well known, both then and in the years that followed who between them, were to inject a vital cosmopolitan energy into post-war British art. The story is movingly told in an excellent exhibition currently showing at the POSK Gallery, that celebrates ‘60 years ofthe APA, the Association ofPolish Artists in Great Britain’, that was formed in 1948 to provide a showcase for this group, and who continue to hold two or three exhibitions a year there. It is full of remarkable stories as well as exhilarating work, for example ofStanislaw Frenkiel, who survived, among other things, three years in a wartime Soviet labour camp before finding his way via Egypt and the Lebanon to the UK in 1949. By 1965 he had become Director of Art at the enormously influential Institute ofEducation; he was also a profoundly expressive and greatly underrated painter. Or Carolina Borchardt, Poland’s first aviatrix in the 1920s who, escaping to Britain in 1943, went on to become a well known painter, exhibiting in London, New York, Paris and Italy. The story continues. For an artist who might never have taken up art ifhe hadn't been diagnosed with epilepsy as a teenager – with his celebrated walrus moustache twitching, he liked to recount how the doctor had observed at the time “as you are in fact, abnormal, I think it would be a good idea ifyou took up art” – Kyffin Williams had quite the most astonishingly successful ofartistic careers, becoming one of the defining figures in Welsh art in the second halfof20th century. It couldn't, as they say, have happened to a nicer man; for all that he liked to describe himself as obsessive, intolerant and ruthless (among other things) – and he was certainly opinionated – Kyffin also gave a great deal of time and energy to the visual arts and artists in Wales. Now, this month, come the celebrations ofthe 100th anniversary ofhis birth (8 May in fact), with Cardiff retrospectives at Martin TinneyGallery and The AlbanyGallery – and they have both pulled out all the stops with quite splendid shows. Other Welsh galleries joining the celebrations this month include The National Libraryof Wales , Ffin Y Parc and Oriel Môn . All in all a forceful reminder that this artist, who was reputedly told as a student by the Slade professor of the time that he couldn't draw, has had the last, and longest, word. Founded just six years ago in the resort town ofNorth Berwick, Fidra Fine Art have established a reputation for showing a nicely balanced mix of20th century Scottish Modernist painting and up and coming younger contemporaries. A recent exhibition for example mixed atmospheric landscapes by late 19th-early 20th century painter Patrick William Adam, with tough post-war abstractions by William Baillie, alongside some distinctly adventurous ceramics by young Glasgow graduate Leonie MacMillan, and Matthew Draper’s moody cityscapes – and a lot else besides! Now they are on the move – only a few miles down the road to a high street location in Gullane where, from the end of this month, they are taking on the space formerly occupied by Roy and Gail MacGregor’s successful Gullane Art Gallery. The intention is to continue their good work while introducing the adventurous approach that has enabled Fidra to make their mark so quickly. There’s a nice back story to the exhibition entitled ‘The Alchemy ofPaint’ at Gallery8 , a show featuring the Sussex-based plein air painter Andrew Roberts alongside some ofhis childhood R OUND-UP 8 GALLERIES MAY 2018 P olish gathering Welsh party Scottish move Sussex story