Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Art Review: Anthony Frost and Terry Frosts at The Brook Gallery Budleigh Salterton

Budleigh Salterton, one of Devon's more genteel seaside towns, is an unlikely setting for a gallery specialising in contemporary, quality and usually abstract prints, but The Brook Gallery has been operating for over a decade now, and has built up a clentele of collectors onsite and online.

The late Sir Terry Frost should need no introduction, being one of our country's most celebrated painters and printmakers. His son Anthony has made his own reputation, sharing his father's talent for form and colour, but finding his own palette and motifs. A third generation of Frosts has taken up the family trade, with Anthony's son Danny recently having a room to himself at Tate St Ives.

This back-to-back show of the elder Frosts' work gives us a chance to compare and contrast two innovative printmakers who between them mastered just about every technique available to post-war artists working in the medium. I missed Anthony's show, being in Morocco, but am familiar with his work and its evolution, with the chevrons and slashes in intense blues and oranges beginning to breakup to reflect the development of his work on canvas. He paints to music - The Fall, who he's created cover art for, Captain Beefheart, Dinosaur Junior, PJ Harvey - and the key to what he does is rhythm and vibration. I prefer his paintings on a scale, benefitting from the textures of stitched cloth and netting he applies the paint on, but some of his more recent prints are leaping off the paper with new vigour.

Terry Frost worked mainly in primary colours with distinctive forms - the abstracted semi-circles of rocking boats, an always pulsing sun, stripes of colour that reverberate in each other's company. I particularly like his pieces in red, black and white and have reproductions of several on my wall. Beginning his career as an artist as a prisoner of war working with wood and lino from the huts he was imprisoned in. He ended back in the West Penwith landscape he loved, remarkably productive in his later years, with a joie de vivre that is remembered by all who knew him and more than evident in his last creations.

I was fortunate enough that my visit that coincided with the launch of Dominic Kemp's 'Terry Frost Prints - A Catalogue Raisonne' that compiles Sir Terry's work in the medium chronologically and is both definitive and beautifully produced with an illuminating series of essays. He delivered two talks, the first on the techniques of the printmaker, using examples from the exhibition as illustrations. The second majored on the images he created to accompany a book of eleven poems by Federico Garcia Lorca, the great Andalusian poet and playwright who was executed in the Spanish Civil War.These are darker and more mysterious than his usual images, and as great a set of illustrations as have graced any work of poetry.

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