DAGHANI, Arnold

Arnold Daghani - abstract
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Arnold Daghani (1909-1985) 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 showed 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.


DONOVAN, Terence

Terence Donovan - unsigned
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Terence Donovan (1936-1996) was born in the East End of London and studied photography at the London College of Art and Photography. He sprang to fame in the late 1950s with portraits of film stars and through the 1960s was one of a handful of photographers who captured London during “the swinging ‘60s”.

He continued to take photographs throughout his life, including of Princess Diana and other society figures, but in his later years developed a love of painting. He exhibited vast abstracts to great acclaim at Albemarle Gallery in Mayfair in 1990.


DRECKI, Zbigniew

Zbigniew Drecki - portrait of woman
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Zbigniew Drecki (1922-1998) 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.


EVANS, Handel

Handel Evans - Colour-Study for "The Mechanical Men"
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Handel Evans (1932-1999) was born in Pontypridd and trained at Cardiff College of Art 1949–54 where his teachers were Eric Malthouse and David Tinker. Evans, an accomplished pianist, was torn between a musical career and art but eventually turned to the latter.

He travelled widely, living and painting in the Caribbean from 1959-61 and then in Germany, Italy and the United States. Evans attended the British School at Rome in 1962-63 and in 1975-76 studied with Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17, Paris. From the 1970s man and technology became a dominant theme in Evans’ work, which moved away from realism and increasingly drew upon Futurism, Surrealism and Cubism.

Evans’ first solo shows were in the Caribbean, in Jamaica in 1962 and 1964 and Barbados in 1968.

He held extensive exhibitions in Germany, including Deutscher Beamtenbund Berlin in 1992 and a memorial show in 1999 in Korbach Museum, and also had shows in Spain and the United States. British exhibitions included Brown’s Hotel, London in 1972 and Clare Hall, Cambridge in 1987 but he always received more acclaim internationally than in the UK.

In 2001 he was posthumously honoured in the United States with the National Welsh-American Foundation’s Contemporary Culture Award. Clare Hall Cambridge, Ashmolean Museum Oxford, Newport Museum and Art Gallery and National Gallery of Jamaica hold examples of his work. University of Aberystwyth, Wales looks after his archives and has a substantial collection of Evans’ work.


JONES, Jo

Jo Jones - Gypsies applauding a dance at night
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Violet Madeline Josette Jones (1894-1989), 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 1960s 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.


LANZI, Francois

Francois Lanzi - Into the Blue
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Francois Lanzi (1916-1988) 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.


MAYERSON, Anna

Anna Mayerson - Collage
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Anna Mayerson (1906-1984) was born in Vienna to a German Jewish family and studied art at the Vienna Academy and the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Zurich before fleeing Vienna for England in 1938.

She studied at the Slade School of Art in London and had solo shows at the Modern Art Gallery in 1942 and the Leger Gallery in 1943, both in London. In 1946 she took part in a show of five artists at the Redfern Gallery, others including Jankel Adler, Raoul Ubac and Graham Sutherland and in 1948 she had an exhibition with one other artist at the Hanover Gallery.

Her career in England was interrupted as Mayerson went to live in Taormina, Sicily from 1949-1959. During this period she exhibited extensively in Europe and Truman Capote described drawings for the front-piece of his 1951 novel The Grass Harp as ‘superb – beyond anything’.

She had a solo show in Galeria Odyssia in Rome in 1961 and two one-person exhibitions at Annely Juda Fine Art in London in 1971 and 1972. Numerous mixed exhibitions included A.I.A., Leicester Galleries, Arts Council and London Group.

Stylistically Mayerson began her career as a figurative artist but from the 1950s to mid-1960s painted in a bold abstract expressionist style, often using bitumen and metalwork in her paintings and constructions. From the mid-1960s Mayerson brought back figurative motifs, notably of heads and faces. Ben Uri Gallery and Somerville College, Oxford hold her work.


MELVILLE, John

John Melville - The Sleepers
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

John Melville (1902-1986) 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.

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.


MENDEZ, Theo

Theo Mendez - untitled
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Theo Mendez (1934-1997) 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”.


MILLINGTON-DRAKE, Teddy

Teddy Millington-Drake - Composition 1962
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Teddy Millington-Drake (1932-1994) was born to a diplomat father and spent much of his childhood travelling. He attended Eton, studying art under Wilfred Blunt, and Oxford before living and painting in Venice and then Patmos, Greece. Millington-Drake in the 1960s worked in an abstract style apparently influenced by Jung, but achieved most fame as a watercolour landscape painter.

India and the Middle East were favourite subjects and destinations. He showed widely in London and New York, notably at Lefevre and Eyre & Hobhouse.