Differently British – our new exhibition at Burgh House

The exhibition focuses on Nicolas Granger-Taylor, a reclusive artist living in London today. Painting exclusively from life, spending weeks, sometimes months, on a single work, using sable brushes, working in oils, on fine linen canvas, his paintings have been called “cabinet pictures”, intimate pieces after hours of intense observation. The exhibition features finely detailed nude figures and still lifes that express a luxurious, rather disturbing, sense of stillness.

Facing Granger-Taylor’s paintings are works by three British artists from earlier generations – John Bratby, Stan Smith and David Rolt – that seem boisterous by comparison. Most provocative and angry of them all is The Gorilla Within by John Bratby, a portrait from the early 1960s of a very large ape. Bratby, the maverick luminary of the “Kitchen Sink” artists, was a forerunner of Pop Art, though Punk Art is a better description of this work here. The oil paint on this picture is so thick it could have been delivered on a trowel.

With their bold line and colour the portraits by David Rolt (1940s) and Stan Smith (1980s) also contrast strongly with Granger-Taylor’s studied subtlety and finesse.

Stan Smith grew up in a working class family in Hull, where few predicted that this rough, tough baker’s son would become Head of Fine Art at Oxford’s Ruskin School, Life President of the London Group and a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy. The exhibition includes a compilation of his best least known work: more than 120 poignant, darkly funny and  fearsomely honest self portraits that he drew in hospital during the last weeks of his life when he was brain-damaged and physically disabled.

David Rolt, born in 1916, was one of London’s most sought-after portrait painters of the 1940s and ‘50s. His landscapes were being shown at the Royal Academy when he was still in his twenties. His work caught the eye of the leading London gallerist Jack – now Sir Jack – Baer, who staged five exhibitions of Rolt’s work at the Hazlitt Gallery between 1949 and 1957 – all of which sold out. The portraits here come from his studio collection, left to his family when he died in 1985.  Many of the sitters were well known social figures of the time, though the identity of some still remains a mystery.                                                                                                                 

The exhibition runs from Wednesday March 18th to Sunday 22nd at Burgh House, New End Square, Hampstead NW3 1LT. The gallery is open 12 – 5pm, or by appointment.

Private view-  Wednesday March 18th from 6.30 – 8.30pm
Please contact Robert Eagle on 020-8995-1884  / 07966 165169   or     [email protected]