Kenneth Rowntree. A Centenary Exhibition

I have a plan to get to distant Chichester to wonderful Pallant House right at the end of the current Rowntree exhibition. There are some rare Chekhov plays showing at the Festival Theatre and my wife and I are going to combine the two cultural experiences.

In the meantime, I have read and perused the catalogue and what a joy it is. There are four good essays by well-regarded authors, Alexandra Harris, Professor John Milner (a very nice man who I had lunch with once), Alan Powers and Peyton Skipwith. That is a well-chosen group to analyse different aspects of this most multi-faceted of artists. By giving them discrete areas to cover, one avoids the risk of four different styles and viewpoints grating. They have clearly been given a brief to write succinctly and, of course, in the case of Professor Milner, he has written the only book about the artist, which I liked very much when it appeared over ten years ago. In a more scholarly environment, I feel each author could successfully be allowed to develop their themes to a greater and more satisfactory extent.

Credit should also be given to the art dealers backing the show.Harry Moore-Gwyn and Paul Liss have worked hard over a number of years to accumulate many of the works which are included in the show and, with an artist who produced such a range of work, they have managed to show many different aspects of his production.

Rowntree’s work is hugely satisfying.He simplified his visual signals to such an extent that some of his work is boiled down to a shorthand which the eye does not always translate, but which is always an intellectual and often amusing exercise. He was prolific and clever in what he did. Shows and catalogues like this are greatly to be welcomed and encouraged and all credit to those involved.