In September we were thrilled to be showcasing some of our finest post-war British art at two of the most renowned art fairs in the UK. We have been in the industry for the best part of two decades and while once upon a time you could find us hosting some of the finest dressed stalls in a plethora of fairs around London, we have now in our more mature years decided to focus solely on the best.
The Royal College of Art hosts the 20/21 British Art Fair. It is with great pleasure that we exhibited with them again this year. We joined over 50 exhibitors offering an extensive collection of unique paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture and prints from 1900s to modern day. Considering the caliber of artists, designers and creatives who have evolved within the premises, the RCA is undoubtedly the ideal setting for the fair and consistently attracts an array of guests, from the younger art devotees and first time buyers to dedicated collectors and dealers. As always, it is wonderful to be among fellow art dealers. The atmosphere within the event was truly enjoyable and our time there was celebrated as we were presented the 20/21 British Art Fair’s “Best Dressed Stand” award.
One of the highlights of our stand was the 1960 oil on canvas by Frank Avray Wilson titled Big Red. Avray Wilson is well known for his use of Action Painting and Tachism techniques and was one of the first artists in England to employ these. Together with a fellow artist Denis Bowen he founded the legendary New Vision Centre Gallery in London (1956) that became an important promoter of various forms of abstraction. Both Avray Wilson and Bowen also participated in the landmark Metavisual, Tachiste, Abstract exhibition at the Redfern Gallery, London in 1957.
Also worth noting were our two Terry Frost (1915-2003) collages entitled Three Suspended Forms (1969) and Three Suspended Forms on Yellow (1973). Frost, like many of the artists from our collection, was part of the St. Ives movement. He only became an artist in his 30s after serving in World War II. He was captured and became a prisoner of war in Bavaria where he met artist Adrian Heath, who first taught him to paint. Frost went on to study art after the war and worked as an assistant sculptor for Barbara Hepworth in the early days of his career before becoming one of the most celebrated and influential contemporary artists in the UK.
The sought after works by the late Alan Davie (1920-2014) also made an appearance with the wonderful 1967 piece Catch the Tail Find the Fish. No 2. Davie is one of the greatest post-war artists to have come out of Scotland and sadly passed away in 2014. His works are special as many of his pieces were created through building numerous layers of paint until sometimes the original painting had been covered over many times. While he was an admirable abstract artist he was also adamant that his images were not pure abstraction, but all had significance as symbols.
Shortly after we joined the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair on Berkeley Square. LAPADA, the Association of Art & Antiques Dealers, is the largest association of its kind in the UK with strict membership criteria to guarantee the quality of the members. The same principles apply to the fair and all the exhibitors resulting in a fair of 100 outstanding dealers. For the past few years the fair has taken place on the iconic Berkeley Square in the heart of London. The space is especially built harmoniously alongside the flora of the square, which means that many trees and branches decorate the interior of the space giving a unique and earthy compliment to the event.
We started exhibiting with LAPADA about six years ago and were actually one of the first galleries to be included in LAPADA Modern (their 20th century division) at that time. For the first time since starting to exhibit at the LAPADA fair we chose to focus mostly on art, an interesting change as we’re best known there for our mid century design pieces. We couldn’t help but have a few key pieces of furniture to compliment our stand although the art certainly stole the show, particularly with the large pieces by Ivon Hitchens and John Wells.
Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979) exhibited as part of the London group of artists early in his career but moved to West Sussex after his house got bombed in war. Influenced by his new surroundings his subsequent works focused on abstracted landscapes. “Green Shades in a Green Wood” from 1970, the piece we showed at the fair, is one of his later works. These maintain the motifs of space and landscapes but in increasingly abstract style, and have a particularly joyous and colourful feel.
John Wells is aother St.Ives artist and the large 1961 oil on board is a magnificent example of the clean geometric abstractions that he is best known for. Wells first trained and worked as a medical doctor but turned to art after the war. He was a founder member of two groups of abstract artist in Cornwall – the Crypt Group (1946) and the Penwith Society of Arts (1949) – and had a number of group and solo shows from 1940s to 60s. His work received somewhat less attention for some time after but has been rediscovered with the revived interest in St Ives artists and his works now receive the well-deserved appreciation and are much sought after.
All in all the atmosphere of LAPADA fair was positively bustling and anyone who came along would agree that it was a treat for all the senses. It was an honour to have collaborated with so many astute dealers and exhibitors and we look forward to sharing more of our highly collectable post-war British art next year.