Recent exhibitions of work by Prunella Clough have tended to concentrate on her newest work and there has never, as far as I know, been a complete retrospective spanning the early Picasso-inspired pictures of fishermen (all subtle tones of olive green and khaki with passages of grey and blue and red) and the vibrant, flowering abstractions that post-date her successful cataract operation in the early 1980s.
It's a pity. It would be good to have the opportunity to take stock of the breadth of Clough's achievements over 50 years, and it would almost certainly add lustre to a reputation that for one reason or another has remained a bit obscure.
Clough is one of those artists who has always enjoyed the quiet respect of her peers without ever quite taking off in a more public way. Some would say it's because she's a woman, or because of her uncompromising subject matter (even as a figurative painter she concentrated on industrial scenes and machine parts), or perhaps because she has refused to play the art world's reputation-enhancing games, always insisting that the price of her new paintings be kept as low as possible. For whatever reason, she is still one of the most underrated painters around.
In recent years, Clough has played down the importance of her early paintings, but the more that one sees of them, the more they look like the bedrock of her subsequent career as one of our finest abstract painters. Sixteen of these subtle, satisfying pictures dating from 1946 to 1964 are on show at Austin Desmond, alongside work by her friend David Carr and a selection of her previously unexhibited photographs. Don't miss the show.
EYE ON THE NEW
Clough is also one of the artists selected to go west with Flowers East this month. Until 10 August their print department (with works by Stephen Chambers, Terry Frost and Richard Smith) relocates from Hackney to Hammersmith, to the Riverside Studios, Crisp Road, London W6 (0181-741 2255)Reuse content