In paintings, photographs and works on paper dating from the 1920s to the present-day, this group show traces the development of a romantic sensibility, one that is rooted in a certain strand of Englishness. Its early manifestations are found in the art and literature of Hilliard, Milton, Blake and Palmer, and in the supernatural magic of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest. It finds inspiration in the conventions of theatre and the ballet, in classical form and mythology, and in visions of Arcadia. In the twentieth century it has been influenced also by the poetic fantasies of European surrealism, and the heightened artifice and glamour of Hollywood film. The work is often exemplified by painterly light and colour, and a lightness of touch both intimate and fragile.
Many of the artists in this show cast the figure within a light-filled space, in which the subject - and by extension the artist - is metaphorically transfigured. Certain works suggest the atmospherics of dream or reverie; of a longing for idyll or utopia, expressed in private, sometimes transgressive, language. The work has a quiet sense of drama that is the antithesis of the bombast associated with much contemporary art.
The show is comprised of the work of sixteen artists:
Cecil Beaton - Marc Camille Chaimowicz - Kaye Donachie - Derek Jarman - Silke Otto Knapp - Linder - Robert Medley - Elizabeth Peyton - Jack Pierson - George Platt Lynes - Patrick Procktor - Alessandro Raho - Snowdon - Pavel Tchelitchew - Keith Vaughan - Christopher Wood.
Pure Romance is set to be a remarkably beautiful and potent exhibition. It is curated by Dr Ian Massey (author of Patrick Procktor: Art and Life; co-author of Keith Vaughan: The Mature Oils).