John Bratby was an innovative British artist who found fame – and notoriety – in the 1950s and 1960s for this brash and wilfully rudimentary style of painting, characterised by thick brushstrokes and murky colouring. The painter, born in 1928, was regarded as a “radical realist” for his refusal to sugarcoat his images and himself described the style as “tubist”, referring to his technique of squeezing paint straight from the tube and onto the canvas.
He painted celebrities in the 1960s and a certain Paul McCartney (who was reportedly a collector of the artist’s work) sat for him for two hours in 1967, resulting in the two paintings below. There is a third, but it it missing. The two presented here were uncovered when the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings began to assemble a retrospective of work by Bratby, who died in 1992. He was intensely prolific – his widow Patti has said that at one point he produced “55 pictures in 18 days” – and it’s believed there are over 3000 Bratbys out in the world, so the gallery held a “Bring us your Bratby day”, inviting members of the public to loan works they had purchased from the artists.
Enquires came from around the world, including New York and Dubai, and submissions were whittled down to the 66 that best represented the London-born artist’s work. Entitled ‘Everything But The Kitchen Sink, Including The Kitchen Sink’, the exhibition shines a light on an artist who has perhaps not received his due. Needless to say, if you know the whereabouts of that AWOL McCartney painting, the Jerwood Gallery is keen to hear from you.
– ‘Everything But The Kitchen Sink, Including The Kitchen Sink’ runs until April 17 at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings