22 October 2011 to 19 February 2012
Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex, is delighted to present the first major show for over 25 years of the work of Edward Burra (1905 – 1976), one of the most individual and celebrated British artists of the twentieth century.
Featuring some of his best known images of cafés, bars and nightclubs, as well as examples of other aspects of the artist's oeuvre such as his fascination with the macabre and dark sides of humanity, his role as a talented designer for the stage and sensitive depictions of the British landscape, this new exhibition provides a unique opportunity to reassess Burra's extraordinary creativity and impressive legacy.
Despite suffering from acute arthritis, Edward Burra created a large body of memorable images during his lifetime, featuring monumental scale and unusually powerful handling of the watercolour medium. Defiantly anti-intellectual, he was nevertheless widely read and drew on an extraordinary range of influences from Old Master paintings by artists such as Bosch, Brueghel, El Greco, Hogarth and Goya, to his own contemporaries such as William Roberts, Fernand Léger and the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) artists Otto Dix and George Grosz, as well as Hollywood cinema, ballet, and jazz music.
Yet despite these many influences Burra remained distinct from most mainstream art movements though he was a member of the British art group Unit One and the English Surrealist Group in the 1930s and a close friend of the artist Paul Nash. Burra painted for himself, describing it as ‘a sort of drug' and each of his paintings is unmistakably his own.
The exhibition opens on the 35th anniversary of Burra's death on 22 October 1976, and is the largest single-artist exhibition held at the Gallery. Many of these works have been drawn from private collections, and have not been shown in public for many years, as well as national collection such as Tate, National Portrait Gallery, Imperial War Museum, and the Victoria Albert Museum. We are most grateful to Lefevre Fine Art and the Estate of Edward Burra for their support of the exhibition.