Galleries - November 2018

In 1934, when he was still only 24, Julian Trevelyan described himself, with a considerable degree of youthful self-knowledge, as an artistic schizophrenic, a Jekyll and Hyde artist capable of Post- Impressionist landscapes one moment and semi-abstract Surrealist etchings and assemblages the next. His style then moved on, in later years into a form of Expressive Realism and finally, in the last half of his career, into that of a self-declared independent, all of which was fine except that critics and art historians, with their passion for labels, too often categorised, and then disparagingly dismised him as 'eclectic’. Trevelyan himself doesn't seem to have been that worried by such attitudes, happily working away in his kind of earthly paradise of house and studio by the river in Hammersmith right up to his death in 1988. The fact was however that he had, up to that point, only ever had one small retrospective (which I curated in 1986 for the Waterman's Art Centre in Brentford). For an artist who was not only a founding member of the British Surrealist Group and Mass Observation, but also the Printmakers' Council, and had taught Hockney and others at the RCA, this was neglect on an incomprehensible scale. I wish that the Brentford show had changed it all but it didn't and Trevelyan's achievements remained largely on the sidelines for another 12 years, until a much bigger exhibition at the RCA (and touring) in 1998 that I also curated. That at least got the dealers if not the critics interested, but it has, nonetheless, taken a further 20 years before Trevelyan has finally been taken up again at a major public gallery/museum level with the current splendid show at Pallant House Gallery of some 100 paintings and prints marking the 30th anniversary of his death. This, alongside the parallel exhibition at the Bohun Gallery, 'A Magician for his Time' may finally 'do it' for his reputation because gifted mavericks like Trevelyan are increasingly important in a homogenised art world, his life and work a marvellously vivid testament to how it felt to be riding the crest of a tumultuous 20th century wave of ideas while keeping true to your inner creative self within that. With its highly idiosyncratic 'terms and conditions' – no work more than 20 inches in any dimension and six judges creating their own independent exhibitions through a mix of open selection and invited choice – the ING Discerning Eye is always a refreshing change from the often rather 'committee' led feeling surrounding many open exhibitions these days. Which perhaps explains why it is now in its 27th year and, on the evidence of this year's show at the Mall Galleries, still going strong. There's certainly no hiding place for the selectors – always two artists, two critics and two collectors – which puts you very much on your mettle. No bad thing of course, and great fun for the audience – TV's Nick Ross is one of the collectors this year along with sculptor Bridget McCrum. Meanwhile don't miss the Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary, in which six younger artists, selected from several hundred, compete for a £1500 prize to complete a drawing project close to their hearts – a useful reminder that drawing is still very far from dead in art schools. With a mother, Margaret Mellis, and a stepfather, Francis Davison, having both in their time, had exhibitions at Redfern Gallery on Cork Street, sculptor Telfer Stokes has harboured what he terms “a sentimental ambition” to show on 'The Street' himself. Not that he hasn't had plenty of London shows already, principally at Austin Desmond – it was just a family tradition to keep up! Now it's happening, with a show of paintings he did back in 1962-3 in New York where he went straight from art school and worked in close proximity to Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman among others. Also in the Redfern exhibition is a new group of his tough, witty R OUND-UP 8 GALLERIES NOVEMBER 2018 M agic touch Artistic eyeful Following footsteps