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The Resurgence of Symbolic Art

“In the smallest, you will find a master, whom the deepest in you can never satisfy.” (Rilke) Artists around the world seem to be reacting to the arid materialism promoted in Western art in recent decades. They are increasingly reconnecting in their work with the universal inner language of myths, archetypes and symbols developed since ancient times, and which represents…

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The Eye of the Lord

Everyone is talking about the recent discovery of the art of Georgiana Houghton (1814-1884). She is the Victorian lady whose modest works on paper dating from the 1860s have forced the experts to rewrite art history. Her work was totally unknown till the current exhibition at the Courtauld. In fact, of her estimated 300 works, only 50 paintings still remain (preserved…

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Strolling down Duke Street

Before visiting the Summer Show at the Royal Academy, waiting for my friend to arrive, I strolled down Duke Street in the evening sunlight for a visual warm up. Bernard Jacobson Gallery at number 28, opposite Fortnum & Masons, looked very inviting and cool. A large colourful William Tillyer painting with an intriguing mesh on canvas effect coaxed me in, and…

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Jungle Surrealism

Charles Newington paints with refreshing unselfconsciousness and fertility of imagination – all the more remarkable for one who trained formally at Byam Shaw, Camberwell and Central School of Art. The exuberant paintings currently on display at Gallery 8 Duke Street express his own symbolic language, reminiscent of Miro and Charles’s hero Matta, but especially of Wilfredo Lam, the Cuban artist.…

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Emigre Eyes

Aged 103, Wolfgang Suschitzky may well be the oldest living artist exhibited in London. The final centenary celebration exhibition at Ben Uri Gallery & Museum continues the theme of migration; this time displaying portraits of three major cities, ‘Unseen – London, Paris, New York 1930s-60s’, viewed through the fresh eyes of three eminent emigre photographers. The oldest, Suschitzky, fleeing Vienna…

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Natural Abstraction

Tripping along sunny Albemarle Street on my way to BECTU’s Freelancer’s Fair today, I couldn’t resist visiting Connaught Brown’s current show of post-war European abstract works. Stepping inside, the gallery almost vibrates with the strong colours and contours on the walls, the poetic visions of artists who were inspired by natural forms, unlike their Abstract Expressionist counterparts working across the ocean. Lyrical…

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Au premier coup

Cezanne said “You can find us all in Delacroix,” and this fascinating exhibition brings together artists as diverse as Renoir, Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Singer Sargeant, Redon, Moreau, Signac, Fantin-Latour, Matisse and Kandinsky, displaying their work side by side with parallel Delacroix works, to show how deeply he influenced his contemporaries and those that came after, and the resulting trajectory…

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Unbearable lightness of mass

Alexander Calder’s early figurative portraits and sculptures of acrobats made from wire outlines are economical of line and witty, reminiscent of the drawings of Matisse and Cocteau. But his visit to Mondrian’s studio in 1930 was his watershed moment, changing his art completely. He later said it was “the shock that converted me… like the baby being slapped to make its…

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Spring in the fair

Waiting for a friend in the dazzling Spring sunshine on Duke of York Square was the perfect preparation for the diamonds, silverware, clocks and polished antique furniture sparkling amongst the wares on display at the annual BADA fair. However once inside, I was especially drawn to the paintings and sculptures shown by Beaux Arts (London), Messum’s Fine Art and Alan Wheatley,…

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