A Harrogate art legend came out of his reclusive existence in his best jacket to attend his last-ever exhibition.
As he wandered in and out of his past and present in the intimate white space of RedHouse Originals gallery on Cheltenham Mount on Friday, veteran artist John Middleton was surrounded by a packed crowd of fellow artists, collectors, fans and collectors.
And what they were all there to celebrate In an informal way was 50 years of being a master of semi-abstract painting.
Now in his 70s, what is said to be the artist’s last-ever show is a revelation.
The collection illustrates a lifetime’s work; from the dark and brooding Sheffield landscapes of the Middleton’s childhood, to more recent explorations in spirituality, presented predominantly through the filter of an ‘outsider’.
Whatever the date, each of the works showed am enduring talent in line and colour with delicately applied fragments of found objects from the real world and confidently rendered backgrounds in perfect harmony to the foreground.
Not only is John Middleton: Paint easy on the eye at all times, the exhibition shows the importance of imagery such as the triangles which have been a recurring theme for Middleton since he was in his early twenties, represented in the pyramids of Egypt and in the slagheaps of the Rotherham of his youth.
Throughout there is a lurking unspoken element, as if the deep realities of life were hidden in code within the abstract.
John first came to prominence in the 1960s, in an exhibition with the Nicholas Treadwell Gallery.
He later removed himself from the world of contemporary art almost forty years ago, to be a painter free of the ‘tangled mess’ of life, politics and religionand any commercial ambition. The real deal, in other words.
John Middleton ‘Paint’ runs at RedHouse Originals Gallery, 15 Cheltenham Mount, Harrogate until Saturday, November 17.
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