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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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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DAGHANI, Arnold

Arnold Daghani - abstract

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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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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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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OTTESEN, Frederik Lund

Frederick Lund Ottesen - abstract gouache

Frederik Lund Ottesen

1913-1975

Frederik Lund Ottesen was born in the United States and studied at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art before joining Braque’s Atelier in Paris in 1938. He exhibited at the Galerie des Quatre Chemins and, after war service, returned to Paris. He became friends with Hans Hartung and, influenced by him, turned to abstraction and showed extensively throughout Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. He was affiliated with the prestigious Galerie Coard in Paris and Downtown Gallery in New York and had a first UK solo show at the Leicester Galleries, London in 1966. He also showed at Blomquist Gallery, Oslo and Galeries Tedesco and Quatre Chemins in Paris. Ottesen’s work is held by Syracuse Gallery, USA and Musee National d’ Arte Modern in Paris.

 

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SAUTER, Rudolf

Rudolf Sauter - Cloud formation

Rudolf Sauter

1895-1977

Rudolf Helmut Sauter (often known as R H Sauter) was a painter, printmaker, illustrator and poet, son of the artist George Sauter. He was educated at Harrow School, studying art in London and Munich, his father having come from Bavaria. Sauter had strong literary interests, being a member of the writers’ club PEN; he illustrated a definitive edition of works by his uncle John Galsworthy. Sauter showed at the Royal Academy, Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour, Pastel Society, in the provinces, at the Paris Salon where he gained an Hon. Mention, and widely in the United States. Had one-man shows in London and New York. Although Sauter’s work is mainly figurative, in later life he did a series of abstracts. Many of Sauter’s paintings were destroyed by a fire in the 1980s but National Portrait Gallery, Government Art Collection, Royal Watercolour Association and Ferens Art Gallery in Hull hold his work. Cornelia Parker chose a 1935 Sauter portrait as part of her hang of the Government Art Collection at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 2011.

 

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SCHETTINI, Ulrico

Ulrico Schetttini - Torso 4

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY:

Ulrico Schettini
1932-

Ulrico Schettini was born in Cosenza, in the Italian Marches. After studying art at Pesaro, Paris and Rome he settled in England in 1958. An academically-inclined artist, during the 1960s and early 1970s he lectured at Hull College of Arts and Crafts, Carlisle College of Art and Design, Hornsea College of Art, the City Literary Institute and King’ College London. He worked in New York in 1964 and from 1966-71 lectured annually in America under the auspices of the Association of American Colleges. Schettini’s early work was fiercely modernist, being “emotionally powerful” and displaying a chromatic austerity that “blends a basic outline of form with a free graphic improvisation within that form” (Art News and Review Jan 1959). Critics at the time equated his art with modern jazz movements. From the mid-1960s Schettini began producing more figurative work, in a strong expressive, dark style.

Schettini first solo exhibition was at the experimental New Vision Gallery in London in 1958, followed by one in Newcastle. He then exhibited in London at the Drian Gallery in 1959 and the Institute for Contemporary Art in 1961. He had group shows in London, Paris and Milan and then had a major retrospective exhibition at the Municipal Art Gallery, Hull in 1966 which attracted international attention. About this time, though, despite the acclaim, he destroyed many works and disappeared to Italy to find himself again as an artist. He took ‘Montefiore’ as his professional name in homage to two potters he worked with there. A large exhibition of his subsequent work, which now included many ancient and archaeological influences, was given at the Café Royal, London in 1972 and a still more important exhibition at the Palazzo della Permanente, Milan in 1974. Wildensteins in New York also sold his work.

Montefiore moved back to Italy in the 1970s and continues to exhibit there. His work underwent another dramatic shift in the 1980s. He turned to a wider variety of media – he is currently working on stained glass, metals and ceramics as well as painting – and shifted entirely to representational art. The main motive behind this was religious and he now mainly concentrates on large-scale commissions for Catholic institutions in Peru, Spain and Italy. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts at Brera, Milan. Schettini’s work is held by Northwestern College, Orange City in Indiana and California University of Pennsylvania, South Australia House, London and other public collections.

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