Key Decades Exhibition Catalogue – Geoffrey Key Retrospective Exhibition
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Key Decades Exhibition Catalogue – published 2022, 68 Pages – Fully Illustrated – 63 Geoffrey Key works available from 1958 – 2022
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In a career spanning over sixty years Geoffrey Key, one of Britain’s most popular and distinctive artists, has created diverse and highly original works of art. He has followed an idiosyncratic creative path and gone to extraordinary lengths to fashion his own particular artistic signature.
The road he has travelled to achieve this included, when already a successful artist, spending a complete year in the painting over and over again of one hill in an attempt to erase his early influences, a feat of individuality mirrored by his subsequent refusal to follow contemporary fashions in art. The dramatic and surprising significance of this daring experiment and the metamorphosis it engendered are writ large throughout the exhibition.
This almost ‘Taoist’ approach has resulted in both unexpected consequences and a highly distinctive style based on a fusion of line, tone and colour melded by hard-won painterly craft. There are influences, Cubism being a notable one, but the work itself cannot be bracketed by any label. This, of course, will not be ‘news’ to his legion of admirers but the range of work in this exhibition may, I suspect, deliver surprises even to them.
The ‘Key Decades’ exhibition is the first full retrospective of these sixty-three years, enabling a comprehensive appreciation of three of the most arresting aspects of Geoffrey Key’s artistic journey: the continuous development of his distinctive style through line, tone and colour, his interpretation of a particular subject, a single topic which he paints in series, and his constant circling back to re-invent previous themes. However, ‘caveat emptor’, the journey is far from over.
There are few artists with whom particular artistic tropes are associated as being peculiarly their own original trademarks but with Key there are several such as his human forms all bearing the impression of his ‘Nab’ period or his trademark ‘Keysian’ clouds. In the ‘Key Decades’ book & exhibition the ever shifting form of these signatures and their development may be followed decade by decade.
Nick Brown OBE, FRSA, AW