An appeal to the public to donate paintings by artist John Bratby to a new exhibition at the Jerwood has uncovered a wealth of treasures.
Bratby was a prolific painter, writer and enfant terrible of the British art scene during the 1950’s and 60’s.
He died in his adopted home town of Hastings in 1992 whilst walking home from his local chippy the day after his 64th birthday
Rather than create a traditional retrospective of his oeuvre – it is believed Bratby painted over 3,000 works – Jerwood Gallery, in collaboration with Bratby’s family, friends and colleagues, launched a rare opportunity for the UK public to shape the content of a major gallery exhibition. It called for submissions of privately owned Bratby’s, along with personal recollections, letters and photos. The response was staggering.
Hundreds of people got in touch with their remarkable – and often totally unknown until now – Bratby works and stories. The works uncovered are astonishing and reveal the incredible passion of his collectors.
The portraits, landscapes, still lives and drawings from across the UK will feature in John Bratby: Everything but the Kitchen Sink, including the Kitchen Sink - an exhibition which takes up the entire ground floor of Jerwood Gallery from January 30 - April 17.
Bratby painted prosaic subjects such as dustbins and the interiors of lavatories, using paint ‘as thick as Axminster carpets’
Bratby painted a whole raft of celebrities and notable figures during his life. Included in the exhibition will be a portrait of Sir Paul McCartney, painted in 1967 at the height of the Beatles’ fame.
Those attending the exhibition will also get to meet Bratby himself as the exhibition features several self-portraits - including Self Portrait with David and Friend (1965) and Self Portrait with a Sunflower (1977) from the collection of Bratby’s widow Patti, who is lending a number of her paintings to the show.
Bratby admired Van Gogh and repeatedly produced paintings featuring sunflowers and a number will feature in the show.
Due to the overwhelming amount of previously unseen archive material offered to Jerwood Gallery, one room of the exhibition will be a recreation of Bratby’s domestic environment.
Patti Bratby said: “I’m so excited about this project and the final exhibition I can’t stop thinking about it. John worked with great intensity - from one seed out of packet of the Van Gogh variety John did 55 paintings in 18 days. I cannot wait to see so many of his works collected together in Hastings.”
Jerwood Gallery Director Liz Gilmore says “A retrospective of John Bratby’s work is long overdue, and where better for it to take place than in the town that he made his home.
“John Bratby was a complex and intense personality but I hope the show captures some of his moments of genius. We hope our exhibition will rediscover and celebrate the man who put everything but the kitchen sink, including the kitchen sink, into his art.”
n For more information about John Bratby: Everything but the Kitchen Sink, Including the Kitchen Sink follow @jerwoodgallery on Twitter and visit www.jerwoodgallery.org.
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