Contemporary Art Market: Modern virtuoso is ranked with the Old Masters

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The Independent Online
THE work of a contemporary printmaker of breathtaking virtuosity is on show at Christopher Mendez (58 Jermyn Street, London SW1).

Mendez deals in Old Master prints of the very finest, from Durer to Rembrandt to Meryon, and has an international reputation as a connoisseur. It is a notable tribute to Erik Desmazieres that he is the only contemporary artist Mendez chooses to exhibit.

Desmazieres, a young Frenchman, limits himself strictly to etching and aquatint, sometimes using a roulette to achieve extra texture. He produces domestic interiors, panoramic cityscapes, garden views, and grotesque fantasies in the tradition of the Old Masters - Piranesi, Callot, Bosch and Goya. He achieves a highly detailed realism with superb draughtsmanship.

Individual prints cost between pounds 150 and pounds 750. The edition sizes vary from 50 to 200; the cheapest print, a view of Paris rooftops from the artist's studio, is in the largest edition. From the plate for his Temptation of St Anthony, a dazzling Callot-esque fantasy which took him nine months' work, he has printed an edition of 75 at pounds 750 each.

Most great museums with print collections have bought examples of his work, including the British Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge), the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), the Bibliotheque Nationale (Paris) and the Metropolitan Museum (New York).

Another dealer whose interests are slipping from ancient to modern is Richard Dennis (144 Kensington Church Street, west London). An expert on old glass and 19th-century studio pottery, he started his own pottery - Dennis China Works - in Somerset earlier this year. His wife, Sally Tuffin, designs the pots, working with a thrower and two young decorators; the influence of 19th- century Arts and Crafts is very apparent, as is earlier Middle Eastern design.

From tomorrow until Friday, Mr Dennis is mounting a show at Chelsea Town Hall of the new company's work, together with pieces by three potters he admires, Roger Michell, David Burnham Smith and Lise Moorcroft. The accent in all the work on show is on painted decoration.

The Dennis China Works is showing some splendid bird jugs, adapted from ancient Egyptian enamel designs - a spectacular owl with brown and pink feathers costs pounds 200 and plates in the form of flowers are around pounds 60- pounds 100.

Michell is showing a large dinner service inspired by Greek black figure pottery, recently commissioned by a London collector; naturalistically decorated creamware is for sale at pounds 50- pounds 200. Moorcroft is showing lustreware with moulded decoration priced between pounds 50 and pounds 500. Burnham Smith is the most ambitious of the trio; he models heads in porcelain and decorates them densely with old Chinese patterns ( pounds 400- pounds 1,000).

(Photographs omitted)

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