Dennis Creffield - Body and Soul

02.11.2007 • 01.12.2007

Dennis Creffield - Body and Soul


James Hyman Gallery is proud to present our first exhibition of work by Dennis Creffield.

Opening on All Saints Day, Dennis Creffield. Body and Soul presents for the first time twelve previously unseen drawings of the great Cathedrals of England and France as well as drawings of the human body.

These drawings not only confirm Creffield's stature as one of the greatest draftsmen at work today but also capture the essence of what he does. Linking these two bodies of work and informing this vision is a sense of shared structures and of connectedness that acknowledges, in William Blake's words, that 'Man has no Body distinct from his Soul' and that 'everything in life is holy'. The spiritual is in the physical, the physical in the spiritual. 'Eternal delight' is to be found as much in the thrusting spires of a cathedral as in a celebration of the human body. Indeed, as one of David Bomberg's most powerful and original students, along with Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff, Creffield's vision may be considered to be highly personalised response to his teacher's exhortation to pursue the 'spirit in the mass.

In the late 1980s Creffield was commissioned by the Arts Council to draw every Medieval Cathedral in England and in the early 1990s he produced remarkable charcoals of many of the great Cathedrals of France. The human body has also been a longstanding preoccupation as was demonstrated by a wall of these drawings in Creffield's solo exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in 1980.

Among Creffield's collectors was the late Sir Colin St. John Wilson, who owned many works by the artist, and R.B.Kitaj, who has also donated works by the artist to the Los Angeles County Museum. In a catalogue essay for Creffield's major Arts Council touring show in 1987, Kitaj praised Creffield's pictures of Cathedrals as 'the best things of their kind since Mondrian's church facadesCreffield has a way with contouring - a splattering of formal detail quite breathtaking. Creffield has brought these Leviathan creatures of men's minds into stunning new light, a light where he himself belongs now.


Editors notes
Dennis Creffield was born in London in 1931. He studied with David Bomberg at the Borough Polytechnic, London (1948-51) and at the Slade School of Fine Art, London (1957-61) (where he was winner of the Tonks Prize for Life Drawing and the Steer Medal for Landscape Painting). He was a prizewinner at the John Moore's Liverpool Exhibition in 1961, awarded the Gregory Fellowship in Painting at the University of Leeds 1964-68, awarded an Arts Council Major Award for Painting in 1977 and an Abbey Scholarship in 1997. Creffield's many commissions include an Arts Council project to draw all the Medieval Cathedrals of England in 1987. Dennis Creffield's works appears in many public galleries including the Arts Council, Los Angeles County Museum, Pallant House in Chichester and Tate.

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