Pallant House Gallery’s Julian Trevelyan retrospective, The Artist And His World, is a bit hit and miss, just like the painter himself
Julian Trevelyan: The Artist And His World
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester Until Feb 10
Credit to the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester for its fine policy of giving retrospectives to forgotten figures of British 20th-century art.
John Minton and Victor Pasmore were recent examples; Julian Trevelyan is the latest.
Born in 1910, Trevelyan would become a key member of this country’s surrealist movement.
The latest artist to feature at Pallant House Gallery is surrealist Julian Trevelyan who took part in Mass Observation contributing works such as The Potteries from 1938 (above)
Later, he took on a role in Mass Observation: the social-research project launched in 1937 to record what life in Britain was really like (in contrast to the way it was presented in the media).
Many ‘observers’ took photos, others carried out interviews, but Trevelyan made perhaps the most creative contribution: with paintings such as The Potteries, in which dark smoke from factory chimneys blackens not just the Staffordshire sky but the faces and clothes of people on the street.
Alas, a whole room of this show is dedicated to highly forgettable paintings Trevelyan did on trips abroad. Manhattan, from 1982, for instance, looks more like a Legoland model of New York than the great city itself.
While his British works impress, sadly a whole room at the show is dedicated to the highly forgettable paintings Trevelyan did on trips abroad such as Manhattan from 1982 (above)
The artist arguably did his finest work at home, in his London house on a stretch of the Thames between Hammersmith and Chiswick.
Over the decades he painted the spot repeatedly, but never repetitively. At times there’s a riot of colours, seagulls and riverboats on choppy waters; yet in The Punt, everything is calm and the sole boatman recalls Charon, from Greek mythology, solemnly crossing the rivers of the underworld.
Trevelyan, in short, was a hit-and-miss artist. His bad days explain why he has been somewhat forgotten, but he had more than enough good days to deserve being remembered by an exhibition such as this.
ALSO WORTH SEEING
By Sarah-Claire Picton
The RA @ Portsmouth
Portsmouth Museum Until Feb 24
The year is 1768 and history is in the making. James Cook embarks on his first voyage of discovery, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is first published and, on a winter’s day in December in London, the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is founded.
Joining the nationwide celebration of the RA’s 250th anniversary year, Portsmouth Museum has an exhibition of Royal Academicians’ work – more than 90 prints, drawings and sculptures, many of which haven’t been on display for some years.
A personal highlight is Allen Jones’s The Magician Suite lithographs series, from 1976, which brings to life British Pop Art. The works’ bright green and red ‘pops’ show the movement’s influence on pop-culture icons – fashion greats such as the late Alexander McQueen, for example. As a contrast there is shiny resilience in Sir Alfred Gilbert’s Faith And Hope bronze sculpture, from 1896.
Other artists include Dominic Serres, Gertrude Hermes, Eduardo Paolozzi, Lynn Chadwick and David Hockney.
This is a humble exhibition when compared with the two-and-a-half centuries it commemorates. Nonetheless, it packs in some punches and ultimately delivers on novelty and quality.