BEANLAND, Frank

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ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:
Frank Beanland
1936-

Frank Beanland was born in Bridlington, Yorkshire. A bold, colourful abstract artist, he attended Hull College of Art 1952-57, then Slade School of Fine Art 1959-61. A Boise travelling scholarship took him to Stockholm 1961-2. Beanland began showing in 1960 at Young Contemporaries then in mixed shows at Drian Galleries, London Group and Gimpel Fils. He settled for a while in the 1960s in Cornwall where he produced much of his best work.

Solo exhibitions include Smiths Galleries One in 1960 and Belgrave Galleries 1999. His work is held by a number of public collections including Leverhulme Trust and Slade School and the Lodz Museum in Poland.

 

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BLAKESTON, Oswell

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1907-1985

Oswell Blakeston was a painter, writer, film maker and critic. A man of extraordinary talents, Blakeston’s family was of Austrian origin and he was born Henry Hasslacher. At age 16 he ran away from a bourgeois upbringing to become a conjuror’s assistant, a cinema organist and then a clapper boy with David Lean at Gaumont film studios. He began writing film criticism and, with Francis Brugiere, in the early 1930s he pioneered abstract films in Britain. As well as his painting and art criticism, Blakeston was also a novelist, playwright and poet with a “quick eye for the bizarre and the outrageous” according to his long-term partner and fellow artist Max Chapman.

Blakeston had over 40 solo shows, including Drian and Grabowski Galleries and New Vision Centre, and some 100 mixed shows. These included Leicester, Madden and Mercury Galleries. In 1981 he shared a show at Middlesborough Art Gallery with Max Chapman and in 1986 there was a memorial show at Camden Arts Centre. Victoria & Albert Museum and the Ulster Museum in Belfast hold his work, as do national galleries in Finland, Poland and Portugal.

 

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BORNFRIEND, Jacob

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Jacob Bornfriend

1904-1976

Jacob Bornfriend was born in Zborav in Slovakia and educated at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague under Willi Nowak 1930-5. Bornfriend emigrated to England in 1939, settling in London. He had his first solo show at Roland, Browse & Delbanco, London in 1950 and in 1957 painted a large mural for Jew’s College, London. Initially painting still lives and landscapes, Bornfriend’s work – which exudes a quiet beauty – increasingly turned towards the abstract.

The Tate Gallery, Southampton City Art Gallery, Leeds Museum and Art Gallery, several colleges at Oxford and many galleries abroad hold his work. These include Museum of Bochum, Germany and Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand. Slovak capital Bratislava’s City Art Gallery gave him a retrospective in 2008 and Bornfriend’s work was included in a mixed exhibition at the London Jewish Museum of Art in 2009. Connaught-Brown showed Bornfriend’s work alongside two other émigré artists in 2013.

 

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BOWEN, Denis

Denis Bowen

1921-2006

Denis Bowen was born in Kimberly, South Africa of Welsh parentage but left for England as a child. He studied at the Royal College of Art from 1946-50, where teachers included Rodrigo Moynihan, John Minton and Carel Weight. Bowen soon made his name as a leading experimental artist; in 1952 with other members of the ICA he founded the Free Painters’ Group and from 1956-66 he directed the New Vision Centre, initially with Frank Avray Wilson and Halima Nalecz. This became the focal point in London for work of advanced artists from Europe and elsewhere.

From 1969-1972 he taught at Victoria University, British Colombia and in later life he was a leading light in Celtic Vision which he co-founded in 1982. Bowen showed widely, at the Redfern Gallery and elsewhere, and major late career retrospectives included Belgrave Gallery, London in 2001, Blyth Gallery, Imperial College in 2002 and Rome Museum of Modern Art in 2006. His work is held by the Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, British Museum and many regional collections in the UK. It is also in public collections in Australia, USA, Canada, Italy, Poland, Macedonia, Israel and elsewhere.

 

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BRATBY, John

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John Bratby RA

1928-1992

John Bratby was and remains a controversial artist; a founder member of the Kitchen Sink School of realist art in the 1950s, he was described by Charles Saatchi – who devoted an entire room of his first Saatchi Gallery to Bratby – as being likely to “knock the youngsters out”. Bold images, vigour, thick paint and primary colours were Bratby’s trademarks. Bratby was born in London and studied at the Royal College of Art 1951-4. Through the 1950s Bratby regularly showed at Beaux Arts Gallery in solo exhibitions, the first being in 1954. Having won a number of scholarships, including from the Italian government, Bratby went on to teach at the Royal College of Art 1957-8. He represented Britain at the Venice Biennale both in 1956 and 1958, where on both occasions he won the Guggenheim Award. He was elected RA in 1971.

Although slipping out of fashion in the later 1960s and 1970s, his reputation recovered in part due to the championing of Julian Hartnoll. In 1991 the National Portrait Gallery held a retrospective and in the same year there was a solo show at Albemarle Gallery and the Mayor Gallery included him in the group show The Kitchen Sink Artists Revived. The Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Saatchi Gallery, Museum of Modern Art New York and national galleries of Canada and New Zealand are amongst those that hold examples of his work.

 

 

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CHRISTOFOROU, John

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ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:
John Christoforou
1921-2014

Christoforou was a powerfully gestural abstract and figurative artist who used a brilliant palette, “a savage expressionist”, born in London to parents of Greek origin. He was an important pioneer of the Nouvelle Figuration movement which emerged in the 1960s. This movement, which incorporated the work of Bacon, De Kooning and others, was a form of expressionism which reached far beyond the harmonised vision of perceptual reality, to create highly charged “infra-vital” images. The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Athens School of Fine Art in late 2002 held a major retrospective in Athens honouring “an artist who made Greece famous in Europe and the whole world”.

Christoforou moved with his father to Greece in 1930 and he studied at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Athens before returning to England in 1938 and serving in the Royal Air Force 1941-46. He had his first solo show in 1949 at 20 Brook Street Gallery. In 1951-2 Christoforou lived and showed in Paris, destroying all his remaining earlier work. Returning to London in 1953 he showed with Gimpel Fils and then joined Victor Musgrave’s Gallery One, where he had a number of solo shows, before settling in Paris in 1957. In 1965 Christoforou received the prize of the International Association of Art Critics in London. He went on to exhibit extensively in the United States, Britain, France, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium and elsewhere. Retrospectives included Randers Kuntsmuseum, Denmark 1974, L’Ecole Regionale des Beuax-Arts d’Angers 1985 and Fondation d’Art Moderne en Picardie, Amiens 1988. Tate Gallery, the Government Art Collection, the Greek National Art Gallery and public collections in France, Colombia, Bangladesh, Mexico, Denmark, South Korea, Taiwan and Austria, amongst others, hold his work.

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CHRISTOPHERSON, John

Christopherson 'Hieroglyph'

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:
John Christopherson
1921-1996

John Christopherson was born in Blackheath and lived most of his life in South East London with his artist wife Anne. He studied part-time at Chelsea School of Art from 1955 and, encouraged by Dubuffet, Victor Pasmore and Anthony Caro, began showing at mixed exhibitions at the Leicester, Redfern and Mercury galleries. In 1961 he was given a one-man exhibition at the Hyde Park Gallery and further solo shows followed at the ICA, Agnews and other top London galleries. England & Co gave him a series of exhibitions from 1989. Christopherson’s work showed a poetic intensity, ranging from a private-image world of abstraction influenced by primitive art to haunting, un-peopled townscapes of deceptive simplicity. Public collections holding his work include the Arts Council, Manchester City Art Gallery and colleges at Oxford and Cambridge.

 

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COHEN, Alfred

Cohen 'Grotesque'

Alfred Cohen

1920-2001

Alfred Cohen was born in America and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. After war service in the USAF, in 1949 he was awarded a foreign travel scholarship that took him to Europe. He continued studying in Paris at L’Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, showing his work in France and Germany. In 1960 Cohen settled in England and had a long series of shows with Roland, Browse and Delbanco. He also had solo exhibitions in Paris, Montreal and Tokyo. His style in France was realist and intimiste, but in the 1960s he moved on to haunting and exuberant studies in a chunky, richly-coloured style in the commedia dell’arte manner. In later life he turned to sparkling, jewel-like landscapes and seascapes. Cohen’s work is in many public collections including Ben Uri Collection, Contemporary Art Society, Nuffield Foundation, Pembroke College in Oxford and in galleries in Rye and in Hull, as well as widely abroad. The Alfred Cohen Foundation continues to promote his work, which continues to be regularly exhibited.

 

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COLQUHOUN, Ithell

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ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:
Ithell Colquhoun
1906-1988

Colquhoun was a pioneer surrealist artist, occultist, writer and poet. She also experimented with different painting techniques, such as enamel and decalcomania, throughout her life. Born in Assam, India she studied at Slade School of Fine Art 1927-31, then privately in Paris and Athens. She showed extensively, including London Group, Contemporary Art Society, Tate Gallery and abroad and had solo shows at Fine Art Society, Mayor Gallery and elsewhere. She was expelled from the London surrealist group in 1940 for refusing to conform to its dictates. She continued as an independent painter in London and Paul, Cornwall, and with touring exhibitions abroad.

Newlyn Orion Gallery held a major retrospective in 1977. Colquhoun was represented in the last Tate Gallery exhibition on surrealism and in the Mayor Gallery, London’s 2009 exhibition on British Surrealism. In addition to the Tate Gallery, her work is held in public galleries at Hove, Bradford and Cheltenham amongst others and the National Trust manages her estate. A monograph on her life and work was published in 2007.

 

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COMBER, Melanie

Melanie Comber Untitled

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:

Melanie Comber
1970-

Melanie Comber studied at Wimbledon and then Chelsea Schools of Art 1990-1994. She was nominated for many awards during and after her time at college and had residencies at the Victoria and Albert Museum and in Rejkavik. Comber had group shows from 1993, most notably recently at the Royal Academy and Cat Street Gallery in Hong Kong, whilst her first solo show was 1995’s Elemental at The Blue Gallery. Fine Art Society, London has given her a series of solo shows in the last few years. Her work, abstractions sometimes teetering on the brink between two and three dimensions, frequently involved sand, natural pigments and other slightly unusual materials. Corporate collections holding her work include Scottish Widows, Hiscox, RBS and Deutschebank.

 

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