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An artist under the cover of architecture

There on the cover of this Penguin John Updike book was a drawing of what was very clearly Archigram member Dennis Crompton looking over his shoulder.

This jacket picture turned out to be by Andrew Holmes and a penny dropped because both were then, several decades ago, working at the Architectural Association.

Quite a lot of architects have been able to draw elegantly, but it turned out that Holmes had done maybe 50 Penguin covers. And, quiet bloke that he was and is, had a serious reputation as Britain's leading SuperRealist artist. It says something about the separation of the arts that few architects were aware that one of their fellows was a major talent in another field and, naturally, located at Bedford Square.

It was, of course, all pretty quirky because what looked like paintings - actually they looked like photographs - were executed in coloured pencils.

Try doing a photographically precise chrome fuel tank in coloured pencils. And the subjects have not been architecture as we know it but mostly those painted and chromed 'artics', which, Holmes points out acutely, have widely replaced one familiar bit of traditional American architecture: the barn.

You think this is possibly what you should expect from a mate of Cedric Price and the Archigram boys (he works closely with David Greene) and so it is, but, he argues, it is more to do with having worked with Richard Rogers, the Reliance Controls aesthetic, Mike Davis and Alan Stanton. You might expect something in the area of abstraction, Pop perhaps, but not necessarily realism.

But of course, this is SuperRealism.

And stunning.

Holmes has just finished his 83rd of a 100 series of trucks and you can get to see 20 of them at the Plus One Plus Two gallery at 161 Seymour Place near Baker Street from now until 4 October. Gas Tank City, it's called. But you can also get a good view at his website www. realisticpictures. co. uk.

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