Derrick Greaves. Milestones

30.05.2012 • 22.06.2012

Derrick Greaves. Milestones

Derrick Greaves. Milestones installation view

Derrick Greaves. Milestones installation view


James Hyman Fine Art is delighted to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Derrick Greaves, one of Britain's greatest living painters.

James Hyman writes:

I am honoured to present our seventh solo exhibition of work by Derrick Greaves. The exhibition is a special one for many reasons. Most importantly, it coincides with the artist's 85th Birthday on 5th June and the new paintings on show are an appropriately joyful celebration of on-going inventiveness. But it is also special for personal reasons. This summer we celebrate ten years since I opened my gallery. Derrick was the first artist that I represented and I am excited to be marking this milestone by presenting an exciting new body of paintings by the artist.

In 2007, Lund Humphries published my monograph on Derrick Greaves and in honour of this, and the artist's 80th birthday, the gallery staged a three-part chronological survey of his work. At that time, Derrick was keen to emphasise that he was still exploring, still inventing, still as excited as ever by what he discovered in the studio. He was, rightly, concerned that the book and exhibition should not appear too final, that there were more chapters to come. Each exhibition since then has been inventive, distinctive and different; an assertion of Derrick's extraordinary inventive energy. I am delighted that this continues to hold true and that for this latest exhibition the paintings continue to surprise and delight.

On a recent visit to the artist's studio in Norfolk, Derrick asked me whether the new work was what I expected. The answer was yes and no. I have learnt to expect the unexpected! These latest paintings have an immediacy - they are emphatically contemporary - yet they also look back. They synthesise aspects of Derrick's practice of the last decade - linear drawing, flat often subtly modulated grounds, paint often combined with wetted charcoal - but they also have a different character in the ways in which they playfully respond to earlier paintings, whether the artist's own or those of others.

A particular favourite of mine is Marine in which Derrick reprises an earlier theme of people on a beach, but also wittily deconstructs Picasso's most bombastic work, his massive drop curtain for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. The clumsy bulk of Picasso's two figures is transformed into sprightly lines that have the vitality of a vector diagram.

Another favourite, Two Cafetieres, combines cafetieres with abstracted flowers to lucidly synthesise different subjects and languages. I also believe that two versions of a large landscape, entitled Bunker, are as powerful as any that Derrick has painted since he rebuilt his pictorial language half a century ago.

I am grateful to Derrick for agreeing to this exhibition and indebted to him for his friendship, loyalty and support over the last decade. I look forward to continuing our journey together.

Derrick Greaves is one of the most important British painters of the last half century. Greaves initially gained acclaim in the 1950s, when he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale along with the other 'Kitchen-Sink' painters with whom he was associated: John Bratby, Edward Middleditch and Jack Smith. His work has developed from the social realism of the 1950s to a more heraldic style that paralleled 1960s Pop Art, from an imagery based on nature and observable fact to more studio-bound imaginative constructs. In 2007 Lund Humphries published a major monograph on the artist, Derrick Greaves. From Kitchen Sink to Shangri La. Derrick Greaves is represented by James Hyman Fine Art.

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