Life Drawings at Pallant House Gallery, in Response to John Craxton

Life Drawings at Pallant House Gallery, in Response to John Craxton

I have been invited to run three life drawing sessions at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester in conjunction with the next exhibition, John Craxton: A Modern Odyssey


Thursday 16th November – 2023 6-8pm
Thursday 18th January-  2024,  6-8pm
Thursday 21st March – 2024, 6-8pm

Address: Pallant House Gallery, 9 N Pallant, Chichester PO19 1TJ

Details in this link

John Craxton: A Modern Odyssey

From the 28 October 2023 until 21 April 2024, Pallant House Gallery has an exhibition showcasing the work of John Craxton. This gallery is a leading UK museum that focuses on Modern British art from 1900 to now. Pallant House Gallery often has simultaneous parallel shows with works from period and current artists; thus creating new and exciting connections between the near past and the present art scene.

Life Drawings at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester. Held on Thursday 16th Nov 2023
Life drawing session
Cardboard props referencing John Craxton’s Paintings
John Craxton Paintings selected to study during the life drawing session
Cat Cardboard props referencing John Craxton’s Paintings

A setting Sun. Painting By Craxton

Brighton Draws Men session run by alej ez at the Sussex County Arts Club

The art of John Craxton and life drawing: Introduction by alej ez

I do not recall when I attended my first life drawing session at Brighton Draws Men. I had to look at my records of drawings to date the earliest one August 2016. I struggle to date anything in life, if you ask me twice the date of something I did in the past I will probably give you two different dates and none will be right. But records tell exactly that and I have been dating my drawings ever since I started. The earliest drawing I found dates from 2016 (2016-08-16 alej ez scan LC Matthew) at the time I was just an artist assisting the sessions. A couple of years later, Ian, the person running the sessions, ran out of steam and somehow I took over. I am the worst person to take any leading role so we just continued as we were, but now it was me finding the models, taking payment and paying the models and the venue.

Molly the learning Coordinator from Pallant House Gallery contacted me early this year (dont ask me when) to put together a series of life drawing events in relation with the John Craxton exhibition at Pallant House Gallery  titled ‘A Modern Odyssey’. She knew that I have been running a life drawing session in Brighton under the name of ‘Brighton Draws Men’ that could possibly bring a contemporary dialogue in reference to the depiction of the male figure and the art of John Craxton.

It is going to be a journey of discovery for me. I am an architect, I was born in Granada Spain. My training is in architecture, what I know about art is my own interest which I have in abundance. So I look forward to mapping, studying, and experiencing Craxton life and work. I love monographic exhibitions that focus on the life and oeuvre of a single artist. If the exhibition is successful you feel practically that you have met that person. That’s how I felt when I saw last year’s 2022 Glyn Philpot exhibition and this year’s Gwen John both at Pallant House Gallery. I also read the exhibition books which these days are not just a list and short description of the works but a comprehensive study of the life and profound analysis of the artworks.

I wish I could say I am familiar with the British old and New Romantic ideas in art:  William Blake, Samuel Palmer,  John Minton, John Piper, Keith Vaughan, Graham Sutherland and others. I just saw at the Tate Britain the exhibition ‘The Rossettis’ , an exhibition of the Pre-raphaelite artists connected to the romantic movement. Romanticism – to look at the past or pastures new in search of an alternative picturesque reality from a personal emotional hankering trip, sounds to me like putting foot in the air, there is nowhere to stand on or support. My question about romanticism is how relevant it is today with the acceptance of the selfie culture and the experience of the World crisis in so many aspects.

Craxton visited Greece many times during his life, where he created extraordinary paintings of sailors and working men. Following his steps, last month I visited Athens for nine days. I went to every museum and art foundation in the city. I was mesmerised to experience the extremely raw byzantine paintings and the realisation of the immense weight of the hellenistic culture in our world, with its centre in the human form in spirit and flesh. Both subjects were of pivotal interest to Craxton.  At Athens I also visited the Yannis Tsarouchis Foundation which gave me an insight to a remarkable Greek neo-romanting artist depicting the male figure.

Back to the drawing board and Brighton Draws Men. I now run these sessions and I look after my artist. I see the group more like a commune with a shared interest. Some of us have artistic training, some don’t. It does not matter. I play no music during the sessions. I have been told often how good it is for the soul to focus your mind for the two hours of the session where you become a link, a facilitator between the experienced human form and your artistic expression.  

And the question is often about the nude. And this is where we go back again to Greece and Helenistic culture, with the love and exaltation of the human form; a human form often fit for purpose; for war, for making pottery, building boats , for being godlike, for expression of sexuality. For being human as it comes. So at the sessions at Pallant House Gallery we will consider all this and the work of Craxton. Come as you are. Love life, love art!

Life Drawing in Response to John Craxton 2nd Session 18th Jan 2024

A full house of artists, It was a incredible fast journey of study, practice discovery and reflection on the life and work on John Craxton. Every artist put up with my comprehensive and detailed instructions.

I selected three pieces from this extraordinary exhibition. We felt incredibly honoured to stand in front of them and study in detail: ‘Head Among Leaves’ from 1948 which has a fabulous pagan green man feel to it ; ‘Two Figures and Setting Sun’ 1952–67, a bather blinded by the sun and a pal that just caught an octopus and proudly waves it in the air. Waters and mountains of Hydra surround these figures, whose outlines glow with yellow and red, while the setting sun pulses and ‘Cretan Cats II’ 2003 such fun cats! . We did playful interpretations and studies with the props I made and our model @lukey_haley was absolutely extraordinary channelling Craxton vibes. One last session coming up and selling fast

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