"Abstract art doesn't arise out of the blue," said Ben Nicholson, who knew about these things. "It has vitality only when it grows out of the painter's personal experience of living, it must start from somewhere and that is where it starts from." George Dannatt, a distinguished, if little known, painter whose work owes much to Nicholson's agrees, adding "My own personal experience of living has included a deep involvement with music."
Dannatt, who is 82 this year, was a music critic for many years, but since the 1950s he has concentrated on his own forms of abstraction, inspired by a satisfying blend of music and the landscape of Dorset and Cornwall. He has two exhibitions in Dorset this month: the first, aptly titled Sonorities, at the Town Mill Gallery, Lyme Regis, concentrates on the musical connection; the second, which opens today at Dorset County Museum, sets his own paintings alongside those by other artists that he has collected over the years.
The latter promises to be an interesting selection, not major works, but all chosen by a discerning eye and including the likes of Nicholson, Patrick Heron and John Wells, all loosely grouped under the title "Artists of the St lves Area", a classification which has been stretched a few hundred miles to include Prunella Clough, and - further still - the brilliant Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillada.
Chillada also comes to mind at London's Rocket Gallery, whose show of recent work by Brian Blow is another with musical connections. Blow, an accomplished jazz musician, makes strong, simple sculptures and elegantly minimal prints which have a restrained, yet powerful presence. This is his first show in London for over 30 years. I hope we don't wait so long for the next one.
EYE ON THE NEW Partou Zia, winner of last year's South West's Arts Award, opens her first London exhibition this week. She lives in Newlyn, but her tough, painterly pictures owe little to the usual, associations of West Cornwall. From tomorrow to 7 June.
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