DANCE/MUSIC : Iain Gale on exhibitions

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The Independent Culture
Dealers have a habit of presenting us with "forgotten" British artists: painters and sculptors whose work has lain unseen for decades, only now to be "rediscovered" in a blaze of publicity which far outmeasures their true worth. Most would be better forgotten. A welcome exception however, is Morris Kestelman, currently celebrated in a 90th-birthday retrospective at London's Boundary Gallery.

Kestelman is a quiet and self-effacing artist and teacher who, following a career as a figurative painter, turned in the 1960s to abstraction. Still at work today, he now paints in both genres with equal competence, but it is his figuration which is perhaps the most remarkable discovery. Here are classic examples of English Neo-Romanticism, quite the equal of Vaughan, Miston and Craxton and sharing their preoccupations with the spirit of place and a "landscape of the vernal equinox". The high-point of Kestelman's oeuvre was the immediate postwar period: a celebratory pastoral reaction to the impenetrable darkness of the Holocaust.

Anyone who needs reminding of just what that experience meant for European artists is advised not to miss the Hayward Gallery's major autumn show "Art and Power" which opens next week; a fascinating investigation into the cultural character of Fascism and Communism from 1930 to 1945. Contrast the philistine propagandising of Hitler's favoured artists and Stalin's Social Realists with Kestelman and his contemporaries, (both, paradoxically, the offspring of Romanticism) and you begin to have an idea of what it was we were fighting for.

Boundary Gallery, 98 Boundary Rd, London NW8 (0171-624 1126) to 18 Nov See listings for details of Hayward Gallery

Below: detail from Morris Kestelman's 'Figure in Landscape'