A small but perfectly formed collection of fine paintings by some of Britain’s most talented representational painters in the modern impressionist style. This is by no means an attempt at an exhaustive survey of the genre but a timely reminder that this style, promoted so ably by the Federation of British Artists at the Mall Galleries, is very much alive and kicking in today’s art world.
Those art buyers who can remember the heady days of the 1980s and early 1990s will need no convincing of the relevance and quality of the work embodied in what we think of as ‘New English’ painting. What can be disturbing is that many in the subsequent generation, who came to art awareness under the glare of the YBA’s, might be led to believe that the Saatchi artists were the only game in town.
The painters in this exhibition are the current representatives of a proud tradition of British painting. Their roots lie in the French Impressionism that influenced the early New English Art Club members, who experiencing it at first hand evolved their own interpretation. This strain of impressionism, complete with a suitably British restraint of palette and deftness of brush stroke runs through nearly a century and a half of painting. The work of Singer Sargent, Wilson Steer, Sickert, and Augustus John would still hang comfortably today in the Mall Galleries’ annual exhibitions.
There is some irony in the New English Art Club’s supposed position as a bastion of artistic tradition against an unruly, cutting edge Royal Academy. A century ago the situation was reversed. Although there the similarity ends, the Royal Academy is not currently espousing any art movement as earth shattering as Impressionism and the New English is far from stuffy and retrograde. Far from it, the Mall Societies tend towards the bohemian and hold artistic integrity above any tradition for its own sake.
All art, of quality, has its place. Currently the public perception of British art is skewed, the prevailing media love affair with the aging YBA’s has led to an imbalance that eventually, history tells us, the shifting sands of fashion will redress.
25 June - 11 July 2014
Panter & Hall
11-12 Pall Mall
Monday to Friday
10.00 AM - 6.00 PM
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
CLOSED BANK HOLIDAYS