Chris Sturgess-Lief was a self-taught painter who created evocative and poetic pictures using a highly individual private symbolism. Sturgess-Lief was schooled at Sherborne, Dorset and, after army service in Malaya, he then moved to London and began showing on the Hyde Park railings in the early 1960s. He was spotted by Victor Musgrave of Gallery One, who gave Sturgess-Lief a solo show in 1962. He also exhibited at Rye Art gallery in 1969 and took part in mixed shows at New Vision Centre, Leicester Galleries, Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol in 1963 and others in Japan and the United States.
Psychological issues, probably a form of PTSD after his army service, meant Sturgess-Lief abandoned painting in the 1970s, returning only in later life. Even so, his Red Painting was included in the Belgrave Gallery’s 1992 show British abstract art of the 1950s and 60s, and in 1997 Julian Hartnoll in St James’ put on a solo exhibition of his work. Grosvenor Gallery exhibited a number of Sturgess-Lief’s works at Frieze Masters in 2023 as part of a 70th anniversary tribute to Gallery One.
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