James Hyman is delighted to present an exhibition of recent paintings by Derrick Greaves that celebrates a decade since our first solo exhibition of the artist in 2003.
Last summer we staged an exhibition of recent paintings entitled Derrick Greaves. Milestones that celebrated the artist's 85th birthday and we are delighted once more to be marking Derrick Greaves's birthday in June with a vibrant new exhibition.
In the decade since our first exhibition of Derrick Greaves, he has continued to astonish with his creativity and each show has been distinct and different. The present exhibition is no exception. Having previously presented one exhibition in which pared-down images were set against a white ground and another in which coloured lines were placed against a black background, Derrick Greaves. All Blues presents a remarkable selection of paintings in each of which blue is the keynote.
From faded denim to the deepest indigo, from lush azure to the sharpest turquoise, from marine to baby-blue, a range of blues has been a leitmotif of Derrick Greaves's paintings from his student days until the present. But not for Greaves the maudlin tones and sentimentality of Picasso's blue period, nor the whimsical ethereality of Miro's blue-ground dreamscapes of the 1920s. Instead his blues are clear and precise and delineated. Often un-modulated Greaves's blues have the assertiveness of a Matisse papier collé Odalisque or a minimalist abstraction by Yves Klein or Elsworth Kelly.
Our previous exhibition, Derrick Greaves. Milestones, unconsciously took its title from one of Miles Davis's greatest albums and the present exhibition borrows its title, All Blues, from one of the greatest tracks on Davis's seminal Kind of Blue album. These albums mark seminal moments in Miles Davis's pursuit of new forms of improvisation and in the same way the paintings in the present exhibition possess a certainty and rigor that are the scaffolding for spontaneity and chance.
Derrick Greaves is one of the most important painters in Britain and is extensively represented in museum and public collections. 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 initially associated: John Bratby, Edward Middleditch and Jack Smith. After this short period his work swiftly developed into a more heraldic style that paralleled 1960s Pop Art. Flatness, linear precision and fields of colour have characterised his work of the last half a century as Greaves has shifted 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.