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On this day in March...

Important events from The Redfern Gallery archives
February 28, 2022

The latest entry as part of a regular feature providing a summary of important historical events that relate to the Redfern and its artists. 


1 March 1952   Opening of Aspects of Modern Dutch Painting, providing an overview of Dutch painting from Van Gogh onwards. Appel, Van Dongen and Mondrian are among the sixty artists on show, while Van Gogh is represented by three oils dating from his Arles period, including Iris, now in the National Gallery of Canada. 


2 March 1972   Final day of Rory McEwen's first exhibition at the Redfern. A successful folk musician-turned-artist, McEwen unveils a series of immaculate watercolours on vellum. His stark compositions, of isolating a single vegetable or flower against a mass of white background, raise eyebrows, and are not cheap, at £400 to £500 each. But critics are won over by their exquisite beauty, and thanks to further shows at the Redfern during this decade, McEwen establishes a reputation as one of the outstanding botanical artists of his time. His precision is achieved by using a sheaf of tiny brushes and a sheet of cartridge paper on which to test out different colours. He has a second show two years later, also running from February to March, which is hailed as "another example of first-class precision painting ... that McEwen can do for the leaf that Audubon did for birds is in no doubt" (The Spectator). This particular exhibition is notable for sparking renewed interest in botanical art during the twentieth-century. 

3 March 1964   Structures Vivantes exhibition, the first survey of kinetic and optical art held in Britain. Curated by Paul Keeler, who selects a group of artists hailing from Europe and South America, including the Belgian Walter Leblanc; the Italian Lucio Fontana; Spain's Antoni Tapies; Kenneth Martin; Jean Tinguely, from Switzerland; and the Venezuelan Jesus Rafael Soto. The exhibition is well-received, and Soto's mobile work, Horizontal Movement, is bought by the Tate. The German artist Gustav Metzger visits the show, and is particularly impressed by the 'Bubble Machines' of Filipino David Medalla, the first time that these celebrated artworks had been seen. 
4 March 1998   First day of Linda Karshan's latest show at the Redfern, of abstract line drawings in chalk and graphite, one of which is acquired by the British Museum. 
4 March 1980   One of the Redfern's rising stars in this decade is Norman Stevens, given his second Redfern show, and his biggest to date, comprising over sixty prints completed in the last ten years. The most recent print, Flowers from Madeira, is hailed as a "technical tour de force" by William Packer (The Financial Times) and "a marvellous example of Stevens' etching prowess" by William Feaver (The Observer). A handful of recent paintings are also shown, of which Crathes Castle is sold to Rochdale Art Gallery.
7 March 1961    First London show for Japanese painter Jun Dobashi, described as "a lively exhibition ... concerned with leaving an emotional impression on the viewer by means of deep and rich colour harmonies" (The Listener). The exhibition is shared with work by Nicolas de Stael, including "some exquisite collages" (The Listener). 
21 March 1984   Last day of the exhibition of wood-engravings from the 1920s and '30s by John Tandy, who had recently died at the age of 77. A little-known artist, Tandy studied under Leon Underwood, and specialised in bold, organic shapes, printed in black and white. The British Museum and the V&A both purchase two wood-engravings each from the show - the first time his prints enter a public collection.