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.




Jacob Bornfriend


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.




Roberto Caracciolo - untitled

Roberto Caracciolo


A successful abstract artist, Roberto Caracciolo was born in New York of Italian extraction and trained at New York Studio School. He now lives and works in Rome and also currently teaches at New York University, Florence. Caracciolo has taken part in numerous group shows across the United States and Europe. His main solo shows outside Italy include Janie C. Lee Gallery, Houston (1989), Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York (1990, 1991, 1993), Galerie Alessando Vivas, Paris (1995), Earl McGrath Gallery, New York (1998), Galerie Blancpain Stepczynski, Geneva (2000, 2004) and Fenderesky Gallery, Belfast (2004). Caracciolo is currently represented by the Barbara Behan Gallery in London and in January 2006 was short-listed for the inaugural and prestigious Sovereign European Art Prize. Caracciolo’s work is held by the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City and the Borroni Milano Collection – Italy’s premier modern art collection.




Enrico Cervelli - Composizione astratta Rosso e Oro


Enrico Cervelli

Italian artist Enrico Cervelli was a talented artist whose international success was cut short by an early death. He is also remembered for being Artistic Director on the 1954 Federico Fellini film La Strada. Cervelli had an impressive painting career in the 1950s and early1960s, with solo shows including Galleria Numero in Florence in 1955, Gallery O’Hana in London in 1959, Galleria Pogliani in Rome in 1961 and a retrospective at the Grosvenor Gallery, London in 1966. Mixed shows included Gallery One in London in 1958 and the ICA in London in 1960. There is some doubt about the date of death, with indications that Cervelli was alive when his work was being shown in Connecticut in 1967. The Estorick collection of Modern Italian Art holds his work.

A 1960 review by Michel Strauss in the art magazine The Burlington – of an exhibition of Cervelli’s work at London’s Savage Gallery – described the artwork as calligraphic transpositions of ancient propitiatory rites as presented by the peasants of the Abruzzi region. Cervelli was interpreting ancient rites and symbols in a very modern context. The review described his technique as watercolour, gouache, ink and gold leaf pressed down with sealing wax and Strauss, later to be head of Impressionist & Modern Art at Sotheby’s, said the combination of shapes and colours represented “the best of abstract traditions”.





John Christoforou

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.




Arnold Daghani - Self Portrait

Arnold Daghani


Arnold Daghani was born in Suceava, Romania to a German-speaking Jewish family in what was then the borders of the Austro-Hungarian empire. He attended art school in Munich but returned to Romania and work at a publishing house. After escaping a Nazi concentration camp, Daghani painted prodigiously in Romania before emigration to Israel in 1959. He then lived in France 1961-70 and Switzerland 1970-77 before finally settling at Hove, Sussex in the UK.

Daghani – working in an expressionist style – felt an isolated figure artistically and much of his work, as a result of his experiences, dealt with darker subjects and feelings. Even so he did show in prestigious galleries, such as Leicester Galleries, London in its 1961 mixed show ‘Artists of Fame and Promise’, a solo show at Woodstock Gallery, London in 1961 plus a solo show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London in 1970. Despite his perceived isolation, Daghani became increasingly well-known. In addition to exhibitions in Israel, France and Romania, later UK shows included “Arnold Daghani, A relentless spirit in art” at Brighton Polytechnic in 1984 and retrospectives at Barbican Centre and Ben Uri Art Gallery, London in 1992. A tour of his paintings opened in Zurich, Switzerland in 2004 before going on to Germany, Austria and Romania.

The University of Sussex holds the Daghani archives. His work is also held by the Ben Uri Art Gallery in London, the Albertina in Vienna, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, and the National Gallery of Romania and the Museum of Modern Art in Bucharest. Guildford Cathedral exhibited Station of the Cross in 2014.


DAHMEN, Karl Friedrich

Karl Friedrich Dahmen - abstract

Karl Friedrich Dahmen


Karl Fred Dahmen was born in Stolberg and in the 1930s attended Aachen School of Applied Arts. After war service he briefly attended Dusseldorf Art Academy in 1945 and from 1951 spent much time in Paris, absorbing the influences there, before co-founding in 1952 the “New Aachen group”. He was to become one of Germany’s foremost exponents of Taschisme and Art Informel, working in paint, print and collage and from 1967-1981 was a professor at the Academy of Art in Munich. As an abstract artist and teacher Dahmen influenced a younger generation of artists such as Gunther Forg and his work was shown widely, including at group exhibitions in London, Paris and elsewhere. Dahmen’s estate is managed by Van Ham which in 2017 is planning a major touring exhibition to celebrate the centenary of his birth.




Georgi Daskaloff - Approache or Shades of Evening

Georgi Daskaloff


Georgi Daskaloff was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and attended the art school at Sofia University, graduating in 1949. He ‘defected’ to the West in 1960, living in Paris before moving on to New York. Daskaloff painted in the 1960s and 1970s in a pop-art influenced abstracted figurative style using bright colours. He showed widely, having solo exhibitions in Copenhagen, Brussels, New York and Geneva as well as at Galerie Jacques Massol in Paris in 1968 and London’s Ewan Philips Gallery in 1969. Later in his career he specialised more in lithography. Daskaloff’s work is held in a number of public collections including British Museum, Joslyn Memorial Gallery in Omaha and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


DRECKI, Zbigniew

Zbigniew Drecki - Portrait of woman

Zbigniew Drecki


Zigniew Drecki was born in Warsaw and survived incarceration during the war in both Auschwitz and Buchenwald, eventually escaping from a train transporting him to Dachau. He moved to Britain, settling with an English wife in Exmouth in Devon. Largely self-taught, Drecki for some time ran a painting school in Exmouth but in later years he concentrated solely on his own art. Painting in a house he and his wife owned in Florida, in addition to his Devon home, Drecki’s artwork was vibrant, colourful and at times wildly imaginative – a stark contrast to the art produced by other camp survivors such as Arnold Daghani. He appears to have been concentrating on the positive and also pursued political projects aimed at encouraging world peace and philanthropy.



Georg Eisler - Nude

Georg Eisler


Georg Eisler was born in Vienna, son of the composer Hans Eisler. The family moved to England in 1939, settling in Manchester. Georg attended the Central High School, studied art at Stockport, Manchester and Salford schools of art and he was also taught by Oskar Kokoschka. Eisler had his first solo exhibition in Manchester in 1946 but returned to Vienna later that year. Deeply imbued in the Expressionist tradition, Eisler was elected president of the Succession from 1968-72, won numerous prizes and had a major retrospective in Graz in 1977. He travelled extensively, keeping up links with the UK, and one exhibition of cityscapes of Manchester titled ‘Landscape of Exile’ was shown at Manchester City Art Gallery in 1988.