DRECKI, Zbigniew

Zbigniew Drecki - Portrait of woman

Zbigniew Drecki

1922-1998

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.

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FARMER, Bernard

Bernard Farmer- abstract '63b

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:

Bernard Farmer
1919-2002

Bernard Farmer was born and lived in London. He studied at Chelsea Polytechnic School of Art and showed with London Group, New Vision Centre, St Martin’s Gallery and Artist International Association. Solo exhibitions included the AIA in 1956, Heal’s Gallery in 1963 and 1964 and Angela Flowers Gallery 1982. He also exhibited in the provinces and abroad. Farmer said that “the more simple I can make an image the better I like it … The less can always expand in the mind, whereas more either constricts or becomes too much”. Farmer was co-organiser with Malcolm Hughes of Directions-Connections at AIA Gallery 1961, and had work reproduced in Frank Avray Wilson’s Art as Understanding, 1963. The painter Adrian Heath was a strong advocate of his work. A Farmer painting was included at Bede Gallery, Jarrow’s 1984 retrospective assessing the New Vision Gallery’s influence.

The critic Peter Davies said “Bernard Farmer’s collages contain the accidental jaggedness and random expressiveness of the most free-form post-war abstract painting. A lyrical and open interaction between form and space creates rhythmic movement of a musical, even jazzy kind, achieving modern art’s frequently declared intention to create visual analogies with the abstract yet palpable language of music.” John Davies Fine Paintings helped reawaken interest in Farmer’s work by showing examples in a mixed exhibition at The Gallery in Cork Street in 2005. The Katharine House Gallery in Marlborough also incuded Farmer in its ‘Modern British Collages’ show in July 2007 and ‘Modern British Art’ exhibition in 2009. Arts Council and Contemporary Arts Society hold examples, as do private collections in USA, Italy, Norway and Cyprus as well as UK.

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JONES, Jo

Jo Jones - Gypsies applauding a dance at night

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:

Jo Jones
1894-1989

Violet Madeline Josette Jones, or Jo Jones as she was usually known, was born in Knebworth in Hertfordshire. She began painting from an early age and, after using some prize money to fund a stay in Jamaica, she held a successful exhibition there in 1924 that then travelled to Chenil Galleries, Chelsea. She went on to study art in Paris and then attended Slade School in London. Although tutored by both Walter Sickert and Augustus John, her main influences were Bonnard and Matisse. In 1933 the director of the Tate Gallery, J B Manson, introduced her to Wildenstein Gallery which gave her her first major solo show in 1935. Manson wrote the introduction to the catalogue and the Contemporary Art Society, Augustus John, Sir William Rothenstein and a number of other major collectors all bought pictures. In 1938 she had a show at Galerie Zbrowski, Paris with another at Wildenstein in 1939. That year she moved to London, which was to remain her base, although she also had a cottage and studio in Long Bredy, Dorset. Subsequently she held several shows at the O’Hana Gallery, London and in Zurich and also exhibited at the Society of Women Artists.

Jones had four distinct periods as a painter; in Paris and London before the war, in Spain in the 1950s, Morocco in the 1960s and after that – although she retained her studio in Chelsea – mainly in Dorset with occasional visits abroad, especially to Vevey and Zurich. It was in the 1950s that she discovered the Sacro Monte gypsies in Granada, living and working amongst them for nine summers. A portrait of the flamenco dancer Mario Maya won her a substantial prize that she donated to the dancer to enable him to study in London. Pictures from this period are in the Gypsy Museum at Leeds University. Her work there formed the basis of the 1969 book The Gypsies of Granada with text by Augustus John, Laurie Lee and others. In 1963 Jones visited Morocco to draw the strange rock formations in the Tafrout Valley. Her work in Morocco in the was capped by a successful show in Rabat. A talented and very individual artist, Jones showed regularly in Britain, France and Switzerland, having a retrospective at Alpine Gallery 1985. The Michael Parkin Gallery had a memorial exhibition in 1992, as did Six Chapel Row, Bath in 1999. Her work is held in public collections in Switzerland, France and America as well as the UK and is held in many private collections in the US, Europe and elsewhere.

 

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LANZI, Francois

Francois Lanzi - Into the Blue

Francois Lanzi

1916-1988
Francois Lanzi was born in Corsica and studied art in Paris under Guillot de Raffaillac. A prisoner of war from 1940-45, he came to live in the UK in 1954 and exhibited at a number of London Galleries including Redfern Gallery 1957, Royal Society of British Artists Gallery 1959 & 1960, Savage Gallery 1961 and Royal Academy 1965. Lanzi also had a number of exhibitions at the Artists International Association (AIA) in Soho, notably a solo exhibition in April-May 1967. In addition he showed in the provinces, including Stone Gallery at Newcastle in 1961. A promising career was stymied by Lanzi becoming a virtual recluse from the 1960s, although he continued to paint and produce collages throughout his life at his Chiddingfold, Surrey home. A major retrospective was held in 1994 at The Gallery in Woking. Lanzi’s work was in the ICI collection and is in a number of private collections in Britain, France and the United States.

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MELVILLE, John

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ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:
John Melville
1902-1986

John Melville was born in London but moved in childhood to Birmingham where he remained until his death. Largely self-taught, Melville towards the end of the 1920s became associated with the Modern Group in Birmingham but by the early-1930s he and his brother, the noted art critic Robert Melville, were also connected with the Surrealists in London. Melville exhibited from the early 1930s at St George’s Gallery, Wertheim Gallery, Royal Society of Birmingham Artists (RBSA) and elsewhere. The Melvilles, along with Conroy Maddox, refused to take part in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London accusing it of showing too many artists they did not consider to be Surrealists. Nevertheless, by the late 1930s and early 1940s John was regularly featured in international shows of Surrealist and Dada art and in 1938 his works were banned from an exhibition in Birmingham by local councillors as being “detrimental to public sensibility”.

Melville’s reputation suffered after the interruption of the war years and a solo exhibition at Hanover Gallery, London in 1951 was both a commercial and critical failure. Although he taught for a time at Birmingham University, Melville retreated into isolation artistically and developed along his own strange path. His son Theo has described his works as having a “frightening quality”, showing “infinite regression, a kind of annihilation” and there being “an apocalyptic element” in his later work. But despite a large retrospective at the R.B.S.A. Galleries in Birmingham in 1967 and a solo show of watercolours and drawings at the University of Birmingham in 1969, he remained a largely neglected painter until his reputation revived with the fiftieth anniversary of the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition. Mayor Gallery then included him in its major survey of British Surrealism, whilst Blond Fine Art had a solo retrospective show in 1986, Gothick Dream Fine Art a memorial exhibition in 1987 and the Westbourne Gallery another in 1996.

Even before this ‘revival’, Melville’s paintings had remained an important part of the Surrealist canon in Britain and had been shown in the Hayward Gallery’s 1978 exhibition ‘Dado and Surrealism Reviewed’ and Galleries 1900-2000 in Paris’s ‘Les Enfants d’Alice: La Peinture Surrealiste 1930-60 en Angleterre’ in 1982. Melville’s work is also held by the Ertegun and Filipacchi Surrealist collection (arguably the best Surrealist collection in the world) and was shown at the Guggenheim Museum in New York’s exhibition “Surrealism: Two Private Eyes” in 1999. His restoration to at least a certain level of prominence was confirmed when the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery held an exhibition in 2001 entitled “Surrealism in Birmingham” to celebrate Birmingham’s contribution to the avant-garde in the 20th Century, which concentrated on Melville, Conroy Maddox and Emmy Bridgewater. Later solo retrospectives include Millinery Gallery 2006.

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MENDEZ, Theo

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Theo Mendez

1934-1997

Theo Mendez was an artist in oil, acrylic and collage who was born in and lived in London. He studied at Camberwell School of Art, 1950-7, and at London University 1957-8. Teachers included Martin Bloch and Michael Rothenstein. Mendez taught at Camberwell 1958-84, becoming head of textiles in 1976, before retiring to paint full-time. He took part in group shows at Redfern Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, Bear Lane Gallery in Oxford and Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol, and in the 1972 and 1979 John Moores Liverpool Exhibitions. Retrospectives included Duncan Campbell Fine Art in 2002, four solo shows at Highgate Fine Art and an exhibition of his early oils at Whitfield Fine Art, London in 2010. Museum of London holds his work.

Mendez frequently visited Paris, soaking up the atmosphere in cafes and getting inspiration for new paintings and collages and a trip to New York in 1980 added breadth to his vision. In 1990 Mendez wrote about his painting “It is not representational or literal .. but sometimes symbolic of an event or place witnessed, felt or experienced … a moment in time. Each work must ultimately stand by itself without being part of a series or having a title or clue as to its origin. I love the variety of the medium, the spreading of colour and the interaction of colour and colour areas …sometimes the work comes almost directly via music, to which I listen constantly – several hours every day, like food and drink. It is essential if I achieve anything at all, it has, for me, to stand lasting contemplation”.

 

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ORGAN, Bryan

Bryan Organ - Bee

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:
Bryan Organ
1935-

Bryan Organ was born in Leicester and studied at Loughborough College of Art 1952-5, then the Royal Academy Schools 1955-9. His first one-man show was at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery in 1959 but from 1967 he had a series of solo exhibitions at Redfern Gallery, London. He also had solo shows in New York, Cologne, Sao Paulo and Turin. Organ became known as a fine wildlife artist and a notable portrait painter – his painting of Diana Princess of Wales, in particular, was highly regarded. His work is in many public collections in Britain and elsewhere, including the Tate Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester.

 

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PAILTHORPE, Grace

Grace Pailthorpe - Surrealist composition

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:
Grace Pailthorpe
1883-1971

Grace Pailthorpe was born in Sussex and served as a surgeon in World War 1. After that conflict she turned to psychology, setting up what eventually became the Portman Clinic. She met the Surrealist painter Reuben Mednikoff in 1935 and they embarked on a life study of psychological art research. Pailthorpe fell out with the main British Surrealist group in the late 1930s but continued to paint until her death. Leeds City Art Gallery in 1998 held a major retrospective of her and Mednikoff’s work entitled Sluice Gates of the Mind. Mayor Gallery and others also showed her work.

 

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ROONEY, Mick

Mick Rooney - Meeting Place

Mick Rooney

1944-

Mick Rooney was born in Epsom, Surrey and studied at Wimbledon School of Art 1962-64 and Royal College of Art 1964-7. He lives in Mortlake. Rooney won the Rome Scholarship, attending the British School in Rome 1967-8. A highly regarded figurative artist, known for lively café and crowd scenes, Rooney was elected to the Royal Academy in 1991. He exhibited from the early 1960s with solo shows at Fulham Gallery, London, Amsterdam and the Hague. He has since shown widely internationally, including in the United States and in the UK at venues such as New Grafton Gallery and elsewhere.

 

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SARACHI, Chatin

Chatin Sarachi - Tower Bridge

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:
Chatin Sarachi
1902-1974

Chatin Sarachi (in Albanian Paskal “Çatin” Saraçi) was an Albanian painter and politician. Sarachi first went to England on a diplomatic mission in 1933 but, with the occupation of Albania by the Italian army in 1939, he gave up his diplomatic career and decided to remain in London and concentrate on painting. That year he met Oskar Kokoschka who became a close friend and admirer of Sarachi as well as a constant influence on his work. They shared a Kensington studio. Sarachi is thought of as an Expressionist but was also greatly influenced by Oriental art. His first solo exhibition was held in 1945 at the Redfern Gallery, London. This exhibition was followed by another two, in the mid fifties. A fourth in 1975, a retrospective following Sarachi’s death, showed some fifty paintings. Over the years, Sarachi participated in several group shows and had regular one man exhibitions in London, Paris and Dublin. The last exhibition of his work was held at the Pride Gallery in London in 1988.

 

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