Thursday, 23 February 2012

Pastel Society Exhibition and Peter Brown's Exhibition

Yesterday, I had a day out in London to see the Pastel Society Annual Show at the Mall Galleries and the Peter Brown One-Man-Show at Messum's in Cork Street.

The Pastel Society exhibition was, overall, predictably poor in my humble opinion, considering this is supposed to be the finest Pastel work in the country.  There was some excellent work, notably by June Arnold, Ken Paine, Roger Dellar and Valeriy Gridnev, in very contrasting styles, but there really was a load of classic 'Emperor's New Clothes' too.  I used to submit work to the Pastel Society, but having not had anything accepted since 2008, I didn't bother this year.  I had one accepted in 2006 which won an award - not given by the selection committee I might add, but by the various sponsors who support the exhibition.

What constitutes good art is subjective of course, but the foundations of draughtsmanship, composition, colour rendering and tonal balance should, in my eyes, be evident in all work, be it abstract or figurative.  You would be hard-pressed to see more than one of those constituents in a fair percentage of the work offered up in this show, masquerading as art.  You can make your own mind up by looking at some of the work at

I long for the day when rubbish is consigned to the bin it belongs in, rather than put in a frame and hailed as high art by the deluded hierarchy and glitterati.

By contrast, the exhibition of Peter 'Pete the Street' Brown's paintings at Messum's, was an absolute delight for the eye.  I cannot recommend a trip to see this show more highly. Pete's exhibition entitled 'Brown's Oil Sketches', comprises 133 of the very finest painterly masterpieces you are ever likely to feast your eyes upon. 

Don't be put off by the title of 'Sketches' - rather a misnomer in my view - for there is a wonderful mix of small and fully rendered large paintings, each executed en plein air with the utmost skill of an artist at the peak of his powers.  If he isn't at the peak of his powers, then god help the rest of us jobbing artists - we may as well pack up and go home!  I can't even pick out one or two favourites - they are all simply superb examples of utter oil-painting genius, with figures flicked in at speed, but not just methodically daubed on, all looking the same, but each pose perfectly captured, very believable and enchanting.  Equally, Pete's draughtsmanship, composition, colour rendering and tonal balance are simply perfect, all delivered in his trademark painterly style.  The brushstrokes are bally delicious!  He is truly a painter's painter.

When I see exhibitions, various artists catch my eye, but I generally feel I'm more or less 'up there' with them, but, along with David Curtis, Pete Brown's work has the effect of making me feel that I'm barely on the first rung of the ladder of learning how to paint and I have to 're-group'.  I cannot imagine ANYONE not liking his work, so, if you find yourself with time on your hands, or going to London anyway, you MUST go and see this show!  You can see the work online at 


  1. Good article Peter.
    Really like the Peter Brown paintings.
    Right up my street, them.
    All the best

    1. Thanks Trevor - aren't they just brilliant - I knew you'd appreciate them, even as a watercolourist!

  2. I couldn't agree more about Pete the Street's work. His show at Messums was stunning. As well as his usual city scenes there were some lovely little tree studies - really beautiful use of paint. I saw it twice :-)

    1. Thanks for your comment Roy. If I lived nearer, I would have gone twice or more. He's a painter's painter, but you're not too bad yourself! I'd be interested to hear if you agreed with my thoughts about the Pastel Society, if you had a look.


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