o The flamboyant Roy Miles has severed all links with his former gallery on Bruton Street. An exuberant showman with his own inimitable style, Mr Miles has been one of the most glamorous figures on the London scene since the 1970s, famous for his lavish parties and celebrity client list.
Mr Miles handed over financial control of the gallery last year to two leaseholders and relationships between the old and new management deteriorated rapidly.
Mr Miles stresses that he announced he would be leaving the gallery in June and informed his clients and certain members of the Press to that effect. “I have had a wonderful innings but I have no desire to continue in retail; we are about to enter another economic recession and the Russian market in which I have dealt so successfully for the last ten years has dried up as a source of art.”
He intends to keep the name Roy Miles and after a holiday in Tahiti will investigate opportunities in America but will open an art consultancy next year in the UK.
o Michael Spink, cousin of Anthony Spink, the managing director of Spink and Son, has left the family company, now owned by Christie’s, to set up his own business dealing in South East Asian and Islamic art. Formerly senior director of fine art at Spink and Son, Michael Spink commented, “If you are part of a big company, inevitably more and more time is taken up with administration. I wanted to be more hands-on with the art itself.” He joined Spink and Son in 1978 and left to deal on his own for a brief spell from 1989 to 1992 before being tempted back to the firm again. He plans to specialise in the top end of the market with a few high quality objects.
As chairman of London’s massive festival of Asian art planned for next month, his decision to set up his own company could not have come at a more propitious moment.
o If you pass an artist wearing a miner’s lamp on his head, painting far into the night on Wimbledon Common it will be Andrew Gifford whose first major solo show opens at John Martin (6-28 October). Born in 1970, Gifford’s work already shows great maturity in his ability to manipulate layers of paint and explore the delicate nuances of colour and atmosphere in a landscape. Central to this show are three large nocturnal canvases of Wimbledon Common. These capture the bustling night life of the city reflected through car head lamps and street lights and the changing effects of the night sky as it turns from a sepia hue near the horizon to a deep blue beyond.
Gifford is not a painter of spectacular views, but finds a peculiar beauty in his immediate surroundings. “I believe in letting the paint rather than the subject produce the painting”, he explained.
o “A man out of his time”, is how one might describe painter and print-maker Julian Trevelyan. Ten years after his death, two major selling exhibitions of his work are being held to coincide with the publication of the catalogue raisonné of his prints. Trevelyan studied printmaking with Hayter in Paris and flirted with Surrealism. It was only after a commission to record the northern town of Bolton in 1937 that he discovered his true subject matter. “Wherever I went, I knew in my inner self that, more than Byzantine mosaics, more than Surrealist nightmares, more than even Picasso and Paul Klee, what really excited me were places”.
Following his marriage to the artist Mary Fedden in 1950, Trevelyan entered his most creative print-making phase. The two artists worked together at Durham Wharf on the river in Hammersmith in the studios Trevelyan had acquired in the 1930s. “We were an enormous help and influence on one another”, explained Mary Fedden. “I would suggest an alteration, the removal of a certain colour or passage; Julian would explode at the time but the next day he would have changed it.” Mary was his “clean hands”, removing the impressions from the plates he had inked up. From 1955 to 1962, Julian Trevelyan was tutor of engraving at the Royal College of Art and here he nurtured an explosion of young British talent in the form of David Hockney, Ron Kitaj and Norman Ackroyd.
While this younger generation captured the headlines, and perhaps partly due to his marriage to the highly successful Mary Fedden, Julian remained in the shadows.
o Few artists can claim to own a gallery purely to exhibit their own work. North Yorkshire artist, Kitty North became so frustrated at the difficulty in finding suitable venues to exhibit her blustery, windswept landscapes that she and her husband Richard Tempest bought a derelict warehouse in Bermondsey for £75,000 and transformed it into a London home which is also a gallery. They used architect John Pawson to turn the rat-infested, syringe-filled, former tannery into a temple to minimalism. Its light-flooded interiors, cool white walls which float just above the ash floors (a Pawson trade mark), kitchen discretely concealed by an ash screen and the absence of any clutter except the spare, designer furniture tempt one to rush home, throw all one’s possessions in a skip and embrace the joys of a minimalist existence.
Hard as it is to imagine anyone living in such an austere environment, Swan Mead is the perfect setting for Kitty North’s paintings, which go on view next month (10 November-20 December). Her work is a minute examination of the ever changing, bleak, North Yorkshire landscape. A solitary man returns home to a lonely, wind-swept farm; a snowstorm beats around a weathered tree and a pale watery sun tries in vain to burn through the swirling clouds.
o Print dealer, Caroline Wiseman, also combines her home with her gallery, but it could scarcely be more of a contrast to Pawson’s minimalist design. Her elegant town house in a Georgian square behind the Imperial War Museum is full of the clutter of family life with eight-year-old triplets. Ms Wiseman has been very successful in capturing the middle market as a print dealer, selling affordable works by great masters such as Picasso, Matisse and Braque alongside the best modern British masters such as Hodgkin, Patrick Heron, Elizabeth Frink and Terry Frost.
The concept of showing works of art in a home environment rather than a gallery has been so successful that Ms Wiseman has now purchased an eighteenth-century Colonial-style house in upstate New York which from next May will become the family home and a new American gallery. It will have a video link to the London gallery as well as to a New York apartment which will be a Manhattan base for the American business. “We will be a truly international business”, commented Ms Wiseman. We are doing a huge amount of our business with Americans and there is a growing market there for contemporary British art.” “The sensual Matisse” at the London gallery (7 October-20 November) offers prints costing £250-£10,000.
o Annely Juda is showing one of Japan’s foremost contemporary artists, Toko Shinoda (until 24 October). Now in her eighties, Shinoda was trained in the exacting techniques of Japanese calligraphy. She then travelled to New York in the 60s where she was deeply influenced by the work of the American abstract painters, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and De Kooning. She showed at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York alongside such artists in the 60s and 70s before returning to Japan and disappearing from the international art scene.
This, her first major London show, is an opportunity to place her once more in an international context.
o Jonathan Clark shows an interesting selection of works from the St Ives school (8-30 October). There are three important still-lifes by Ben Nicholson, including a major work from 1960 just before he left St Ives to live on the Swiss-Italian border. In contrast to Nicholson’s paintings with their subtle blue and grey tones is an early vibrant abstract by John Piper of the narrow streets of St Ives. Among the figurative works is a marvellous view of the harbour, painted by Stanley Spencer when he spent six weeks in St Ives in 1937 on his doomed honeymoon with Patricia Preece. An abstract by John Tunnard of the following year illustrates the enormous diversity of artists drawn to St Ives. Also an excellent musician, Tunnard’s striking “Red over black”, places two abstract forms in what appears to be a coastal landscape setting. The painting is intersected by tight vertical lines which relate to the strings of a musical instrument.
o A celebration of kitsch is on at Coskun & Co until 14 November, where silver walls, ceilings and balloons pay homage to Andy Warhol’s famous studio, The Factory. The exhibition, entitled “Warhol Glamour”, contains works from his early career as an illustrator, the more familiar screenprints and a large, iconic “Jackie O” canvas, all pertaining to the themes of fashion and movie-stardom.