I have written previously about Keith Vaughan, and the theme of Art and Melancholy (June 20, 2012), having then seen an exhibiton of his work at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester.

Today, I visited the Osborne Samuel Gallery in London (http://www.osbornesamuel.com/exhibitions.asp), where a generous exhibition of his work, more than 80 pieces, some of which have not been seen in public for many years, again pays tribute to the artist’s centenary.

I was struck by many things, which is unsurprising given that, although known for his Bathers series particularly, Vaughan’s works are wonderfully varied, especially in terms of theme and mood.

I will mention a few of the works on display. The Raft II (Variation on a Theme by Gericault) I had not seen before, and was immediately struck by its intensity and intimacy. Inevitably, I attach the term ‘melancholy’ to much of Vaughan’s work, and for me, this mood is almost tangible from his canvas.

Also melancholic are the portraits of lone figures, as in Seated Nude, as well as those pieces that suggest both a togetherness and a simultaneous apartness, for example Pear Tree Bathers and The Wall at Ashford Gifford III.

Most of the portraits appear anonymous to the observer, in the sense that the bodies are headless (Green Landscape with Figures) or facial features are left either deliberately blank (Two Figures), or vaguely generic (The Start of a New Day).

I was utterly moved by the tenderness of Lie You Sleeping HeadMy Love and Lovers, and equally moved by the despair of Methods of Destruction III (Spring), Voyage a Cythere II, and my own most memorable of Vaughan’s works, Man in Cave.

CQ

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