Contemporary Art Market: Childlike perspective that evokes inter-war masters

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IF THE art reminds you of something - buy it. That seems to be the secret of two successful shows in London this week.

Anne Rothenstein, who is showing at Montpelier Studio (4 Montpelier Street SW7) paints small, brightly coloured works on board that evoke masters of the inter-war years, while Rose Warnock at the Gillian Jason Gallery (42 Inverness Street NW1) crosses Piero della Francesca with Max Ernst to create magic landscapes.

Their work is not overpriced; Rothenstein's smallish pictures hover around pounds 1,800 while Warnock's run from pounds 350 to pounds 5,000, depending on whether the painting is tiny or large.

Anne Rothenstein is the daughter of Michael Rothenstein, the great painter and printmaker who died earlier this year, granddaughter of Sir William Rothenstein, portraitist, and niece of Sir John Rothenstein, the former director of the Tate. She went to art college, then broke with family tradition to become an actress; she lives with the film director Stephen Frears, of Dangerous Liaisons fame, by whom she has two children.

She started to paint again in the 1980s while she was looking after the children and tried out a few pictures in the Royal Academy summer show. She had her first exhibition at Montpelier Studio in 1991 and it was a sell-out.

Her style is now confidently developed: small, strongly coloured paintings that use a consciously childish perspective. Braque fishes and birds rub shoulders with Matisse textiles and Alfred Wallis ships to make a strongly appealing image that is familiar but different. She even frames the paintings in black and gold - a style often used on museum Picassos.

There are 32 paintings in the current show - which finishes on Friday - and 24 of them have sold.

The Gillian Jason Gallery is in Camden Town, beside a vegetable market. When Warnock's paintings arrived from France, the gallery invited collectors known to be interested in her work to dinner. The exhibition opened last Wednesday and 9 of the 24 paintings are already sold.

Warnock's paintings are about magic forests and mountains. She starts from the kind of landscapes that appear behind Madonnas and saints in Renaissance paintings but makes the image very much her own with trees whose bushy foliage varies in tone from pink, through blue to yellow.

In her early paintings, these mossy trees dominated the picture space; in her new work rocky mountains, found in Crete, and blue oceans and rivers have crept in, not to oust, but sometimes to dominate the trees. Her mountains holds echoes of Max Ernst's frottage (rough texturing).

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