When Euan Uglow died in 2000, an obituary writer observed that ‘a light in English painting had gone out’.
Euan Uglow was one of the UK’s greatest post-war painters and has many admirers, including David Sylvester, Paul Smith, Lord and Lady Irvine and Cherie Blair who posed for a portrait. This exhibition was the first time that his work had been exhibited in the region.
His exacting, mathematical approach to painting meant that each work was long in the making, taking months and often years to complete. Every brushstroke was the result of tireless study, using plumblines, rulers and magnifying glasses. As a result Euan Uglow produced very few works.
The Harley Gallery substantially added to this touring exhibition, showing 3 additional major paintings, which made this the only opportunity to see such a large body of Uglow’s work.
The additional pieces included The Curled Nude, a painting of model Celia Lyttelton, who said, “Posing for Euan was a physical endurance test. The sessions were about 45 minutes with a much-needed rest in between, and the hours were from nine until mid-afternoon. Some days I thought I was going to scream with boredom and pain.” Also a still life, originally given to Uglow’s close friend the painter Craigie Aitchison, which has been in a private collection since 1953 and has never been publicly exhibited.
Alongside Uglow’s paintings and drawings were photographs of Euan Uglow’s Battersea studio by Anthony Crolla. These were also an addition to the touring exhibition that could only be seen at The Harley Gallery. Uglow’s devoted friend Paul Smith commissioned these photographs, which were taken days after he died (he would never had allowed a photographer in). Marks all over the walls and lino were vestiges of measurements from paintings long gone and testament to his unwavering determination for precision and accuracy in every image.
To give an added dimension to the show there was a rare opportunity to see a film of Euan Uglow from 1975. The film followed him as he worked on a painting over the course of a year.
See more from Euan Uglow in A Curator’s Choice, showing 18/05/21 – 08/08/21