Miles Peter Richmond (1922-2008) was one of David Bomberg’s pupils at the Borough Polytechnic after the Second World War, becoming one of the founder members of the Borough Group in 1948 alongside Bomberg, Cliff Holden, Dorothy Mead and Edna Mann. He continued to study, work, debate and exhibit with them and additional members until 1951 when the group disbanded. In 1954 Bomberg persuaded Richmond to move to Ronda, Spain to assist him at the school he planned to open at the Villa Paz. Although the school did not open, Bomberg and Richmond became neighbours and close friends. It was a relationship that clearly dominated his painting style throughout his life.
Messum’s in Cork Street is featuring an exhibition of nearly 50 oils, charcoals and watercolours – none of which have been publicly exhibited. The exhibition focuses on his early studies of Ronda and southern Andalusia and his works in the early 1970s when he reinvented his work through colour theory and the chromatic energies of his painting throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Bomberg has had an enormous influence on several artists, most notably Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach who went on to achieve international recognition. They managed to adhere to his lessons while breaking free and developing their own styles. Richmond’s work at times is interchangeable with Bomberg’s: the same subject matter, palette, brushstrokes and artistic vision. Richmond has said of his mentor that: “Painting for Bomberg was a kind of fundamental research into the way the world works, what is the nature of matter, what is the relationship between mind and matter. They were the kind of things that concerned Bomberg, not making a success as a painter.”
Richmond is at his best when he manages to find his own darker, less red and orange palette such as in The Dam at Montejaque, 1960 and Sunrise in the New Forest II of 1966. In his later years, his style grew as he developed his own voice with a lighter brushstroke and a brighter palette with works such as The Red Studio series of 1974 where he finally succeeds in breaking free from Bomberg’s influence.
Works are priced between £5,500 and £26,500. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue with a semi-autobiographical discussion of the artist’s life and work.
Words: Sara Faith Photo: left The Dam at Montejaque 1960 Right Red studio 2 1974 Courtesy of the estate of Miles Richmond and Messum’s Gallery London
Messum’s Fine Art, 28 Cork Street London W1S 3LJ 21 May – 29th June 2014