Local Art: Anthony Gross at Goldmark Gallery
6th November 2021
Oils and etchings at Goldmark Gallery in Uppingham through November
The vineyards and valleys of the Midi-Pyrénées erupt with colour in the paintings of Anthony Gross RA CBE, showing in a new exhibition at the Goldmark Gallery from 23 October. Long considered the doyen of British etching, Gross left an immense legacy in print that has occasionally overshadowed his work as a painter of oils. As the Gross Estate’s new representative, Goldmark looks to redress the balance with a spectacular show of Gross’s post-war oils and etchings.
Gross led a life of dashing romance. Born in 1905 to a Jewish-Hungarian mapmaker and an Irish-Italian suffragette playwright, he had a colourful, liberal childhood, and from it he emerged a prodigiously talented young draughtsman. At 18 he left his training at The Slade behind for creative education in Paris, where he befriended fellow printmaker S.W. Hayter. Gross spent the 1920s travelling and in search of his artistic voice: from Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia to Italy, Sicily and Belgium, later shuttling between the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the shanty towns of Paris. In the 1930s he jumped headlong into the world of animated film, and began a celebrated career in book illustration.
Then came the outbreak of war, which led to the work for which Gross is today best known. After he and his family evacuated from France in 1940, on the very last boat out of Bordeaux, Gross volunteered to be an Official War Artist. Indeed he became Britain’s most prolific war artist and, between 1941 and 1946, painted several hundred watercolours across international campaigns: his Lawrence of Arabia-style tours, which took him to North Africa and the Near East, to Iran and India, and to the mountain ranges of Burma, could be the stuff of Hollywood.
He painted and sketched incessantly, often in the heat of battle. In Normandy, on D-Day, Allied troops remembered Gross holding his paints and papers aloft as he waded ashore amid the carnage.
Goldmark’s exhibition will tell the very different story of the second half of Gross’ life – when, post-war, he lived between London and the Lot Valley, retiring each summer to a house in Le Boulvé to paint the surrounding countryside.
On his death in 1984, Gross left behind him an astonishing record of the landscape of Southwest France: simpatico oils and etchings, rich in Gallic detail, produced over decades of intimate observation. Here, at a time when Abstract Expressionism was taking America by storm, Gross discovered a style of abstraction all his own – one that harked back to his father’s cartography shop but was tied inextricably to the shapes and rhythms of the natural world around him.
‘I have bought, sold, and shown the work of Anthony Gross for as long as I have been trading,’ comments Mike Goldmark, the gallery’s founder, whose Uppingham gallery was established 48 years ago. ‘I am honoured to now represent his estate. This will be the first in a series of major exhibitions introducing Gross to a new generation of admirers, underscoring his reputation as one of our greats. A Goldmark-produced book and goldmark.tv documentary film are already in the pipeline.’
For full details call 01572 821424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Goldmark, 14 Orange Street, Uppingham, Rutland LE15 9SQ