Albert Irvin Art Exhibitions

Albert Irvin RA: From Holyrood to Stratford

14 June—25 September 2011

In the Sir Hugh Casson Room for Friends of the Royal Academy

Born in 1922 in Bermondsey, Albert Irvin is well known to a wide public for his exuberant, colourful works - paintings, watercolours and gouaches, some on an enormous scale - as well as for his large out-put of screenprints, a selection of which are the subject of this exhibition.

Having served in the second world war, drawing and painting whenever possible, Irvin went on to train at Goldsmiths College of Art. At first his work was figurative, painting subjects that he knew at first hand, such as people in domestic surroundings and portraits, but gradually, the figure disappeared from the paintings and a new abstract language came into being. However, it was of paramount importance to Irvin that this language should contain a human content and that it should be, as all painting ultimately is, autobiographical.

In 1980 Irvin met the partners of Advanced Graphics London and his screenprinting career began. The print studio has been based in South East London since 1967 and Irvin has made seventy limited edition prints with the workshop over thirty years. Irvin’s paintings and prints are nearly always titled to reflect a geographical location, sometimes directly related to the area in which they were made, at others a little more obscure. In 1987, Irvin created Holyrood (above); its namesake lies close to the Thames tucked behind Tooley Street.

Throughout Irvin’s separate career as a printmaker there has been an interchange of ideas and techniques between his prints and his paintings, notably the technique of layering. Printmaking, unlike painting, which is an intense and solitary affair, is a social event. It is collaboration between artist and technicians, trying out, rejecting, trying out, joyfully accepting, and gossiping all the while between frequent cups of tea. The actual process itself is as intense as the lonely wrestle with the canvas in the paint studio, but it is a shared process when the artist actually has to articulate to his collaborators what it is he is trying to achieve.

Irvin was elected a Royal Academician in 1998 and continues to live and work in London.



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