John Craxton: Drawn From Darkness
22nd May 2021
It is two years since our exhibition John Craxton in Greece: The Unseen Works, in collaboration
with the two trustees of the estate, his long-time partner Richard Riley and his biographer
and friend, Ian Collins. Everything in that revelatory survey dated from 1946 onwards, from
when Craxton first went to Greece, finally settling in Chania on Crete. The exhibition was an
enormous success and over three-quarters of the show sold.
This current exhibition includes work from 1940 through the war years up until his departure
for Greece in May 1946. These were the years of the dancer, the dreamer, the
shepherd in the landscape, the romantic ‘arcadian’ fields and woods recalling an image
of Albion long gone, the vision of a contemporary Samuel Palmer. During these years his
close friendship with Lucian Freud flourished, both were supported by Peter Watson, a
wealthy philanthropic polymath who returned to London from his home in Paris as war
approached and who was able to support many young artists during these difficult years.
This exhibition also launches the long-awaited biography: John Craxton : A Life of
Gifts by Ian Collins and published by Yale University Press in hardback at £25. We are
offering a special exhibition price of £20 for a copy signed by Ian. Postage at cost if you
cannot collect from the gallery.
In spite of the recent challenges we are delighted to be able to present this exhibition, the
second at the gallery since the lockdown restrictions eased. Obviously things aren’t quite
back to normal so do try and let us know when you would like to visit the exhibition. We
were very busy throughout the last Craxton show so will need to manage numbers in the
gallery. Ian Collins will be at the gallery on 26th May to sign copies of his book.
Ian has kindly written a wonderful piece on Craxton for the catalogue and I would also like
to thank Richard Riley for his enduring support for all things Craxton and also that great
champion of Craxton Sir David Attenborough for allowing us to reproduce his eulogy given
at John Craxton’s funeral in February 2010.
We do all look forward to seeing you again soon in the gallery.