An interview of John Byrne in After Nyne magazine
Acclaimed Scottish artist and playwright has a new exhibition at the Fine Art Society (12-29 September). Entitled Lullaby of Broadway, the exhibition will feature a selection of Byrne’s new paintings which draw on themes he has developed over the last fifty years. John Byrne, 77, is considered by many to be one of Scotland’s most venerable artistic voices. Byrne wrote some of the seminal Scottish works of the 1970s such The Slab Boys Trilogy, which made it onto Broadway in the 1980s, and the six-time BAFTA winning television series Tutti Frutti. A colourful and diverse character, Byrne is also known for his past relationship with actress Tilda Swinton, designing album covers for bands such as the Beatles, his postmodern poetry and, most recently, being one of three artists commissioned to paint public murals of Billy Connolly in Glasgow for the actor’s birthday.
Byrne’s new show, his fifth at the Fine Art Society, furthers his exploration of Scotland’s national identity as well as his own. Charged with wit and imagination, these paintings consider Scotland’s relationship to the slave trade of the American South but also Byrne’s own relationship with America. Byrne transports his narrative to the streets of New York City in the 1980’s, when ‘The Slab Boys’ appeared on Broadway, capturing American glamour and drama whilst returning to the Teddy Boys of Paisley that have been a constant source of inspiration – in a homage to and celebration of black culture.
Back to Nature Boy
Under the harsh fluorescent lights of Oliver Bedeman’s boxy East London studio, one portrait stares out from the back wall and meets our gaze as we enter. A male figure is sat, arms folded, on what appears to be a tube train seat, albeit one rendered suggestively, like the fragment of a dream. Not even the canary yellow of the woman beside this figure can distract from the piercing stare and ambiguity of his expression. This is Nature Boy, one of a cast of characters and stories that recur throughout Bedeman’s portfolio. The painting was inspired by the song of the same name, first recorded by Nat King Cole, which features lyrics about a “very strange, enchanted boy” who was “a little shy and sad of eye, but very wise was he”.
It’s a description that could easily be applied to Oliver himself, a thoughtful, methodical and occasionally seemingly preoccupied young artist who has been gaining plaudits for his painterly yet graphically composed portraits in oils. In 2016, he staged a successful show at Norwich’s Fairhurst Gallery and made the shortlist for the Columbia Threadneedle Prize, which has a lead to a forthcoming solo exhibition with the Fine Art Society on London’s New Bond Street this September.
WORD, IMAGE, IMAGINATION: NINE MINUTES WITH BARTHOLOMEW BEAL
At just 24, Bartholomew Beal became the youngest artist in 138 years to stage a solo show at the Fine Art Society with his critically acclaimed paintings based around TS Elliot’s ‘The Wasteland’. This September will see the artist return to the space with his third solo show, ‘Drive Out West’, a series of dynamic paintings inspired by Irish poet Seamus Heaney. These are not literal renditions of poetic compositions, rather Beal takes the written word as a point of ignition, using his own reactions, realities, and the unpredictable process of painting to arrive at each work. Beal is not only pushing the expectations of traditional media, but also pushing the limits of word and image in his painterly exploration of the their relationship.
Ahead of the anticipated opening of ‘Drive Out West’, we catch nine minutes with Beal to talk about the careful balance between the design and serendipity of inspiration…
Megan Bentley analyses local sculptor Emma Maiden’s new exhibition
“My pieces have always been more or less domestic in scale, and that is because I want them to fit into people’s lives, to be seen, touched and enjoyed,” she explains.“And if they,in turn,touch those lives with a sense of stillness, they have achieved their purpose.
“I think living with objects, handmade or found, is important, increasingly so as life becomes more technology driven and our relationship with natural materials more tenuous.”
Nature Morte at The Guildhall Gallery, London
Gluck: Who Did She Think He Was?
First aired on Sunday 27th August, 9pm - 10pm BBC Four
Directed by Clare Beavan, and part of the BBC's Gay Britannia season, Gluck: Who Did She Think He Was? tells the story of the life of one of the most notorious artists of the twentieth century. Born into the wealthy family of Joseph Gluckstein - co-founder of the catering empire
J. Lyons and Co. - Hannah Gluckstein was one of the most mercurial and rebellious artists of her day. By the age of 23, she had begun to call
herself Gluck (“no prefix, suffix, or quotes”), had adopted men’s clothing, cropped her hair, and begun to smoke a pipe.
Fiercely individual and determined, Gluck shot to fame in the middle of the London social scene gripped in the hedonistic haze of the Roaring Twenties. She gained recognition for her portraits of glamorous women and captivating floral still lifes. These highly stylised works were inspired by the floral arrangements of Constance Spry, a fashionable society florist and Gluck’s one time lover. Through Spry, Gluck gained access to London’s leading socialites, painting the portraits of Baroness Molly Mount Temple, costume designer Margaret Watts (Portrait of Miss Margaret Watts, 1932) and popular novelist Susan Ertz.
An extraordinary life of highs and lows, loves and losses, Gluck was anything but conventional. Seven months after the major retrospective of her work, held at The Fine Art Society, her fascinating story continues to unravel.
You can watch it Here on BBC iPlayer.
27 May - 10 September 2017
The female artists who broke the rules of gender
by Lily Le Brun
In London, more dialogues that cut across the years are taking place. Women Artists: A Conversation, at the Fine Art Society, invites 12 contemporary female artists to respond to a concurrent show of work by the English painter Gluck. A cross-dressing lesbian who insisted on “one-man” shows in the 1920s and 1930s, Hannah Gluckstein spurned the conventions of her gender, along with her given name. Sara Terzi, the curator, felt the retrospective presented a good opportunity to consider how far expectations for women artists have changed since Gluck’s lifetime. “The gender gap is still present in both the art world and society more broadly, so it is still important today to present this kind of [all-woman] show,” she says.
"The current exhibition at the Fine Art Society comes more than 90 years after Gluck first showed with the gallery and serves to rethink the legacy of an artist who rebelled against artistic and gender norms."
Our contemporary specialist Sara Terzi talks Gluck and questions all-female shows in Whitewall MagazineInterviewed by Katy Donoghue
"I think it’s important to show that women artists are not afraid to explore a wide variety of genres and that they are doing so through different mediums and styles. (...) What matters is that, outspoken or not, these artists should not be considered any differently because of their gender. Although there is no longer a need to defy the use of “prefix, suffix or quote,” as Gluck famously did, there is still a lot of work to be done."
4 stars review for our "Women Artists: A Conversation", "Ethel Gabain" and "Gluck" exhibitions in The Upcomingby Sarah Bradbury
“The Fine Art Society, known for being prolific when it comes to exhibitions, are simultaneously displaying not one, not two, but three sets of works celebrating historical and contemporary female artists.”
Their revisit to the pioneering, often rebellious lesbian British artist Gluck (1895-1978) is timely given assessment and celebration of how far we have come on LGBT issues, now high on the agenda for the 50 year anniversary since the Sexual Offences Act 1967. This in-depth retrospective, the third presentation of her work at the gallery since 1937, features 32 landscapes, portraits and floral studies, displayed beautifully in distinctive stacked frames.
The Society have then displayed a range of work by contemporary female artists, allowing such pieces to be in dialogue with Gluck’s: building on, further exploring and contrasting her representations of women. Ironically, forthright Gluck objected to combined exhibitions, preferring to show solo, and resisted categorisation as a “female” artist (she quit one society for being referred to as Miss Gluck). Indeed, their approach of inviting 12 artists to respond to her legacy, resulting in a diverse range of works, emphasises the plurality of artforms and styles female artists can and do produce and challenges the very premise of a collective identity.
On the top floor are a set of intriguing and stunning lithographs from Ethel Gabain (1883-1950), an Official War Artist in the Second World War. The images of women inhabiting private spaces feels intimate and the medium of lithography allows a uniquely detailed yet “barely there” quality, as if peering in through a keyhole back into the past to a sketched representation of women rarely seen in mainstream art or in the public sphere.
Whether a fad or a genuine marked shift in the art world to pay more attention to greater diversity, particularly around gender, such exhibitions are certainly part of a growing trend. Here, beyond simply gathering together female artists’ work, something far more interesting is prompted by putting representations of women into dialogue with one another, opening up space for new, evermore nuanced and innovative interrogations of our perceptions of gender.”
Read the full review here.
Click here to listen to Diana Souhami and Cheska Hill-Wood talk about Gluck's legacy on Radio Diva for Resonance FM.
Diana Souhami wrote Gluck's biography (Gluck: Her Biography. Pandora Press: London, 1988). She is the author of other highly praised books including: Selkirk's Island, The Trials of Radclyffe Hall and Mrs Keppel and her Daughter.
Cheska Hill-Wood is the gallery manager at The Fine Art Society and worked on the exhibition Gluck (6 - 28 February 2017).
Rosie Wilby, who presented the award-winning "Out in South London" on Resonance since 2009, has teamed up with the newly relaunched Diva magazine to create this new LGBT series, co-hosted by actress, musician and downright lesbian superstar Heather Peace. This week's guest is spoken word / theatre / multimedia performance artist Paula Varjack.
- FT How to Spend it: https://howtospendit.ft.
com/art/122113-women-artists- take-centre-stage-at-the-fine- art-society
- AnOther: http://www.anothermag
.com/art-photography/9501/the- early-20th-century-artist-who- pioneered-modern-androgyny.
- Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/
artanddesign/gallery/2017/feb/ 08/gluck-painter-fine-art- society?CMP=twt_gu
- London Live!: http://www.londonlive.c
- New York Times: https://www.nytimes.
com/2017/02/01/t-magazine/art/ gluck-gender-queer-painter. html?smid=tw-share&_r=0
- FT How to Spend it: https://howtospendit.ft.
Andrew Webster reviews "Ethel Gabain: Life Studies" for the Fine Art Connoisseur
Wonderful prints by a near-forgotten female historical artist headline an exhibition this February that’s sure to delight the connoisseur. She was an Official War Artist of the Second World War, and her powerful images deserve your attention writes Andrew Webster for the Fine Art Connoisseur. Access the full entry here.
Rhythm in blues: Sandra Blow's abstract paintings
Our upcoming exhibition of Sandra Blow's abstract paintings is featured in The Guardian today.
"British painter Sandra Blow used everything from tea to cement in her geometric work, resulting in energetic and mysterious canvases."
BBC Radio 4 Front Row
Norman Ackroyds 'Just be a Poet' is now open. The Exhibition includes some of Ackroyd’s greatest expressions of Nature’s grandeur in prints and watercolours mostly produced between 1978 to 2000.
Follow the link below to hear Norman speaking on BBC Radio 4 Front Row, about the early lure of pop art and his subsequent devotion to capturing the wild coastlines of Britain (05:40).
In his new series The Harmonious Society, Chinese artist Jacky Tsai uses comic book heroes to make heavily allegorical artworks reflecting on China’s industrial rise and the declining dominance of the west. Here, western icons seek asylum in China after their own hemisphere has crumbled. The Harmonious Society is at the Fine Art Society, London, until 8 November
See the full article on The Guardian website here
Mark Beech writing for Blouin Art Info
The only way to pick highlights from the current show is to look at each category. Among the early pop art, the back wall of the gallery is dominated by a 12-foot oil-on-canvas in nine panels of Anna Karina, with thousands of monochrome newsprint dots done in 1963.The Bardot image, with its superimposed circle, is much smaller yet as striking; and the bikini girls are alluring. The abstract sculptures, some of them austere pyramids, are a more acquired taste, though the figurative works are stunning, leading up to the 1977 “An American Girl” — the culmination of the Galina series — and the more realistic “Flora” from 1982 near the entrance.
The chronological mixing up of old and new works through the rooms is smart, with political paintings ranging from depictions of the Kennedy assassination in the 1960s to the Iraq War protest works. Still, the show reaches its peak with the oil-on-canvas and screen prints in the basement, soon acquiring a lot of red dots. Among the crowning glories are Laing’s trademark geometrical shapes, such as the lower triangle and superimposed oval added to the Moss and Winehouse pictures — witty, sexy, and daring. Pop art at its best.
Now remembered as one of Britain’s leading Pop artists, Laing (1936-2011) started studying at Saint Martin’s School of Art in the 1960s after training at Sandhurst and completing a stint in the military during the previous decade.
“I was interested only in what I considered to be contemporary ‘heroic’ themes,” Laing wrote of his work in the early ‘60s. “The themes were skydivers, astronauts, drag racers and, I’m afraid, starlets. (I claim absolution on the grounds of youth!).”
The Fine Art Society’s upcoming retrospective of Laing’s works is the first major retrospective of the artist’s oeuvre to be held since his death, and runs in conjunction with the publication by his estate of his catalogue raisonné.
Read the full article here
Gerald Laing, the artist that made a war zone go pop
Laing, who was born in 1936, enrolled as an art student at St Martin’s College in 1960, was one of a bright new wave of British pop artists. His name is less well known today than those of Peter Blake or Allen Jones, but this month the Fine Art Society on New Bond Street marks the fifth anniversary of Laing’s death with a retrospective comprising 70 of his best paintings and sculptures.
Read the full article here
Now Open at The Fine Art Society Edinburgh
Annie Kevans: Selected Portraits
14th July - 3 September 2016
We are pleased to announce that Annie Kevans: Selected Portraits is now open at The Fine Art Society in Edinburgh Running from 14 July to 3 September, this exhibition marks the first time that Kevans’ work has been exhibited in Scotland. Works from Kevan’s series The Muses of Jean Paul Gaultier will be available to purchase for the first time, having previously been on display at the Barbican Art Gallery, Le Grand Palais, and the National Gallery of Victoria.
Kevan’s paintings reflect our distorted perceptions of figures in the public eye. Her works examine the duality of truth and falsehood by creating 'portraits' which may or may not be based on real documentation. She believes that a person’s identity is not preset, but is a shifting temporary construction and her work questions our verdicts on history and perceptions of intellectual solidity. The subjects of these series include overlooked female artists, the mistresses of American presidents, and iconic figures whose struggles with mental illness and addiction came under public scrutiny.
The entirety of Boys, her BA Degree Show series at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art & Design in 2004, was purchased by collector Charles Saatchi.
Works from the following series will be available to purchase: Ship of Fools, WAMPAS Baby Stars, All the Presidents’ Girls, All About Eve, Women and the History of Art, and The Muses of Jean Paul Gaultier.
For more information please contact Camilla Riva
Another favourite of David’s is the Fine Art Society stand, A1, a stand which David mentioned ‘Always has lovely pieces’. One in particular that stood out was the British artist, Gerald Leslie Brockhurst’s Woman in Black, c.1935. It is not known who the female in the portrait is however, her lingering stare captures the viewer raising bewilderment over her beauty, both emotionally and physically. The contrast of her fair skin against the dreary background is produced by an instinctive and controlled technique, excelled in the deepness of her eyes. One must be able to see the work to understand the emotional response in which it generates.
Access the full blog entry on David Linley's website: www.davidlinley.com
The Fine Art Society is delighted to take part, this year again, in Brown's London Art Weekend.
For 150 years Mayfair’s galleries and auction houses have welcomed the world’s greatest art collectors, and Brown’s London Art Weekend is the ultimate celebration of this London heartland, rich with art galleries and an experience unlike any other in the world.
The Fine Art Society is a haven not only from the noise and glitz of London’s Bond Street but from life itself. To enter its portals is to be transported to a world from another era; its hushed galleries decked with tranquil, often pastoral scenes are an opportunity for quiet reflection.
This June, a portrait of the Dalai Lama (Compassion, second picture) goes on show there. The lenticular photograph hanging on the second floor of the building is the work of Chris Levine and is one of six editions of pictures being sold (for between £60,000 and 80,000) to raise money for charities working with communities affected by last year’s earthquakes in Nepal.
The picture is part of an exhibition (Monday June 6 to Thursday July 7) of over 50 works – taken from The Fine Art Society’s 1,000-strong stock by mainly British 19th- and 20th-century artists – to mark the celebration of the gallery’s 140th anniversary.
Described as “the best shop in London” by Walter Sickert (whose painting Tipperary, £135,000, is one of three works by the artist for sale in this exhibition), The Fine Art Society once attracted such large crowds to the most popular shows of the 19th century that the traffic in Bond Street was brought to a standstill. Established in 1876 by a group of art lovers, some of whose descendants are now shareholders in the company, the gallery is London’s oldest art dealership. Two artists in particular loom large from the early decades of the company, which was set up to sell and publish prints: James McNeill Whistler and Samuel Palmer.