John Virtue ExhibitionsCataloguesSelected press

Biography

Exhibitions

Exhibition catalogues

Born in Lancashire in 1947, Virtue studied at the Slade School of Fine Art (1965-69). Returning to Lancashire in 1971, he supported himself by working as a postman while painting and drawing the landscape, before taking the decision to paint full-time in 1985.   In 1988 he moved south to Devon for 15 years, when he was appointed Associated Artist at the National Gallery, 2003-05. His work has been characterised by the complete exclusion of colour, which he has felt to be ‘an unnecessary distraction’, so that he works only in black and white in his paintings, drawings and graphics. He has expressed his admiration for 17th century Dutch landscape paintings and also those of Turner, in their condensed expression of land and sky, which he tried to match with his monochrome palette.

His location and way of working has meant that he has tended to work in cycles as, for example, at the National Gallery, the resulting cycle focussed almost exclusively on the London skyline: highly atmospheric views with the occasional recognisable landmark to denote their orientation. After the National Gallery appointment, London continued to appear as part of the extensive cycle of more that 360 monotypes in 2006-07, which concluded with views of Venice, after his move to Italy.   In 2009 he returned to Britain, settling on the north coast of Norfolk and starting a new cycle of paintings on the subject of shore and sea, which seemed ideally suited to his severely restricted palette.

In 1988, the 10-year cycle of Lancashire Paintings were exhibited in London, Manchester, and in Los Angeles where, since then, he has continued to exhibit regularly, as he has in Sydney, Australia. These were followed by exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery (1991), the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, and toured to the Arnolfini, Bristol and the Whitechapel Gallery, London (1995); Newlyn Art Gallery (1999) and Tate St Ives (2001); the National Gallery and Courtauld Gallery (2005); the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (2006), Somerset House, London (2013) and the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, Norwich (2014).

 

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Biography

Exhibitions

Exhibition catalogues

Born in Lancashire in 1947, Virtue studied at the Slade School of Fine Art (1965-69). Returning to Lancashire in 1971, he supported himself by working as a postman while painting and drawing the landscape, before taking the decision to paint full-time in 1985.   In 1988 he moved south to Devon for 15 years, when he was appointed Associated Artist at the National Gallery, 2003-05. His work has been characterised by the complete exclusion of colour, which he has felt to be ‘an unnecessary distraction’, so that he works only in black and white in his paintings, drawings and graphics. He has expressed his admiration for 17th century Dutch landscape paintings and also those of Turner, in their condensed expression of land and sky, which he tried to match with his monochrome palette.

His location and way of working has meant that he has tended to work in cycles as, for example, at the National Gallery, the resulting cycle focussed almost exclusively on the London skyline: highly atmospheric views with the occasional recognisable landmark to denote their orientation. After the National Gallery appointment, London continued to appear as part of the extensive cycle of more that 360 monotypes in 2006-07, which concluded with views of Venice, after his move to Italy.   In 2009 he returned to Britain, settling on the north coast of Norfolk and starting a new cycle of paintings on the subject of shore and sea, which seemed ideally suited to his severely restricted palette.

In 1988, the 10-year cycle of Lancashire Paintings were exhibited in London, Manchester, and in Los Angeles where, since then, he has continued to exhibit regularly, as he has in Sydney, Australia. These were followed by exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery (1991), the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, and toured to the Arnolfini, Bristol and the Whitechapel Gallery, London (1995); Newlyn Art Gallery (1999) and Tate St Ives (2001); the National Gallery and Courtauld Gallery (2005); the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (2006), Somerset House, London (2013) and the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, Norwich (2014).

 

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