Pure Romance

• A group show at The Redfern Gallery, London, 2nd February – 3rd March 2016.

The exhibition consists of works by the following sixteen artists:

Cecil Beaton; Marc Camille Chaimowicz; John Deakin; Kaye Donachie; Derek Jarman; Linder; Robert Medley; Silke Otto-Knapp; Elizabeth Peyton; Jack Pierson; Patrick Procktor; Alessandro Raho; Snowdon; Pavel Tchelitchew; Keith Vaughan; Christopher Wood.

Pure Romance examines a romantic sensibility, in paintings, photographs and works on paper dating from the 1920’s to the present-day. It is a sensibility with roots in a particular strand of Englishness, its early manifestations found in the art and literature of Hilliard, Milton and Blake, and in the supernatural magic of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest. In the twentieth century it has been influenced by the poetic fantasies of European surrealism and the heightened artifice of Hollywood film. It finds inspiration in theatre, in the emotional compression of the ballet, in classical form and mythology, and in visions of Arcadia. Amongst its presiding spirits are Wilde, Cocteau and Proust. The work is often exemplified by painterly light and colour, by a lightness of touch that is both intimate and fragile. Certain works suggest the atmospherics of dream or reverie; and of a longing for idyll or utopia, expressed in private, sometimes transgressive, language. Amongst the artists shown here there are many connections in theme, sensibility and intent, each of them sympathetic to a Baudelairean ideal: ‘to distil the eternal from the transitory.’

• Press coverage for Pure Romance:

‘Normally I’d strenuously avoid any romance-themed show opening just before Valentine’s Day, but the range and sheer quality of works brought together by curator Ian Massey transcend the cheesiness of its timing.’
From Louisa Buck’s review for The Art Newspaper (12th February 2016):

The show was also reviewed by Robin Muir for The World of Interiors (February 2016), and by Louisa Buck for The Telegraph:


• An illustrated catalogue is available from The Redfern Gallery.

Posted in: Essays