7 NOVEMBER 1947, Page 13


MESSRS. JOHN CitArroN and Lucien Freud are holding their first exhibition for some little time at the London Gallery. Perhaps the only similarity that links their work is an intense self-consciousness. Where Craxton uses strong colour and a full tonal range, Freud is neurasthenically wan ; if Craxton sometimes broadens and loosens his touch, Freud remains uncompromisingly precise ; when Craxton constructs upon a Cubist scaffolding, Freud is content with an.

emotive, linear emphasis. Both these young painters are undeniably gifted. If much of their work lacks warmth it is because one

senses a certain straining and striving for effect. Craxton attempted, I think, to force the acquisition of a personal style too soon in his career, and he has yet to resolve the conflicting in- fluences under whose care he has put himself. Picasso, Miro, Sutherland, and possibly Tchelitchew's triple perspectives, may be detected in different pictures. Paradoxically, he is most individual when trying least to be so.

Some of Freud's still-lifes are very fine. In this exhibition, how- ever, he shows nothing to compare with his heads. These are utterly static and quite unflattering. They shock and surprise by the clinical intensity with which the facts are observed and stated. Every eyelash, every subtlety in the iris, is noted, as though under a microscope. The result has a larger-than-life quality, a sense of physical proximity, which Dali sometimes achieved in his heyday.

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At the Redfern, Leonard Greaves also seems more at home in his portraits, where he searches out the form with true post-Euston- Road diligence and integrity. Some of his little landscape pochades are fresh and pretty, but these he does not attempt to push to a conclusion. Vera Cunningham's ghoulishness, at the same gallery, seemed to me as convincing as a Hallowe'en tale around the fire. The Stygian darkness of Prussian blue, and the writhing lines of point rippling inwards and outwards from the contours as from a stick thrown into a pond, do not serve to mask a fundamental lack of conviction in the subject-matter.

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Other shows in a crowded round include a collection of Gavarni lithographs at the Leicester Galleries. These satiric and increasingly bitter comments on French society are second only to those of Daumier. One wonders whether posterity will make as much of Sir Alfred Munnin. gs' glittering horseflesh and Society, with a capital S, which fills the other two rooms here. The pictures by Mr. Walter Fletcher, M.P., at the Adams Gallery are timid and insipid.