23 - 30 JANUARY 2022



23 JAN - 30 JAN | 2022



Osborne Samuel - John Craxton: Drawn From Darkness - 26.05 > 25.06.2021


It is two years since our exhibition John Craxton in Greece: The Unseen Works, in collaboration with the two trustees of the estate, his long-time partner Richard Riley and his biographer and friend, Ian Collins. Everything in that revelatory survey dated from 1946 onwards, from when Craxton first went to Greece, finally settling in Chania on Crete. The exhibition was an enormous success and over three-quarters of the show sold. It coincided with a very popular display at the British Museum: Charmed Lives in Greece; Nikos Ghika, John Craxton and Patrick Leigh Fermor.

This current exhibition includes work from 1940 through the war years up until his departure for Greece in May 1946. These were the years of the dancer, the dreamer, the shepherd in the landscape, the romantic ‘arcadian’ fields and woods recalling an image of Albion long gone, the vision of a contemporary Samuel Palmer. During these years his close friendship with Lucian Freud flourished, both were supported by Peter Watson, a wealthy philanthropic polymath who returned to London from his home in Paris as war approached and who was able to support many young artists during these difficult years.

We also see the influences of Surrealism, evident in Metamorphic Plant I and II. Craxton employed surrealist symbolism when the need arose but he was part of no school or trend, indeed he had no formal training, apart from one short spell at the Central Schools and another attending Goldsmiths’ life classes with Freud. In 1945 with overseas travel totally restricted Craxton and Freud went as far they could to being ‘abroad’ - to the Isles of Scilly and the near tropical Tresco with its exotic foliage (Tresco Foliage, 1945).

This exhibition also launches the long-awaited biography: John Craxton : A Life of Gifts by Ian Collins and published by Yale University Press in hardback at £25. We are offering a special exhibition price of £20 for a copy signed by Ian. Postage at cost if you cannot collect from the gallery.

In spite of the recent challenges we are delighted to be able to present this exhibition, the second at the gallery since the lockdown restrictions eased. Obviously things aren’t quite back to normal so do try and let us know when you would like to visit the exhibition. We were very busy throughout the last Craxton show so will need to manage numbers in the gallery. Ian Collins will be at the gallery on 26th May to sign copies of his book.

Ian has kindly written a wonderful piece on Craxton for the catalogue and I would also like to thank Richard Riley for his enduring support for all things Craxton and also that great champion of Craxton Sir David Attenborough for allowing us to reproduce his eulogy given at John Craxton’s funeral in February 2010.

We do all look forward to seeing you again soon in the gallery.

Gordon Samuel

Click here to view the catalogue.

Osborne Samuel Gallery – 23 Dering Street – London, W1S 1AW
Tel. : +44 207 493 79 39 - –