Alan Reynolds 1926-2014
In March 1952, the unknown art student Alan Reynolds exhibited thirty-four paintings at the Redfern Gallery. A decade and nine one-man exhibitions later, his work was represented in thirty important museum collections, twelve of them overseas. He was the most significant English painter to emerge in the early 1950s.
By the mid-1950s, Reynolds was fêted by critics, sought after by collectors, both traditional and modern; and he was heralded as the saviour of English landscape painting. But from the first exhibited works to his minimalist abstractions of today there is a consistent concern for formal and structural elements of composition. From the outset, he revered the art and writing of Paul Klee; and he was later indebted to the disciplines of Mondrian, whose transformations of trees and branches into vertical and horizontal notations were shown at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1955. He also studied traditional Chinese landscape painting, and his highly praised botanical studies - ears of corn, teasels and grasses - possess an exquisite calligraphic subtlety.
From 1960 to 1965, Reynolds’ abstract paintings stood comparison with any advanced painting in Europe at the time: in a period of great experimentation, they were achieved with restraint, discipline, and a mastery of tonal gradation: an austerity is ever-present from the earliest landscape oils to the latest white on white abstract relief. To emphasise purity, and with music having always been important to Reynolds, this stage in his art saw the emergence of titles incorporating Composition, Symphony, Harmony, and Arrangement.