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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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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CERVELLI, Enrico

Enrico Cervelli Rosso e Oro

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:

Enrico Cervelli
1927-1961

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”.

 

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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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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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DAGHANI, Arnold

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Arnold Daghani

1909-1985

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.

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DASKALOFF, Georgi

Daskaloff Approache

Georgi Daskaloff

1923-2005

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.

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