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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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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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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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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