Richard Eurich 1903-1992: Visionary Artist At the Millais Gallery, Southampton Institute, East Park Terrace, Southampton, until 26 April
In his exhibition curating and writing, historian Alan Powers has often looked beyond the established Modernist canon to broaden the understanding of 20th-century architecture, writes Andrew Mead.Marginal figures are spotlit, their measure taken, and a pluralist picture emerges. It is no great surprise, then, to find a catalogue essay by Powers for this show of an overlooked artist, Richard Eurich - staged in Southampton, near Eurich's former Hampshire home.
Eurich established himself in the 1930s, largely with topographical paintings - for example harbour scenes, which could be source material for JM Richards'The Functional Tradition.But post-war taste, whether for 'kitchen sink', St Ives abstraction or Pop Art, left him sidelined.He made ends meet with jobs for the Post Office and Shell Shilling Guides, and his cover for the latter's Cornwall is included in the exhibition. It is a pictorial inventory of all things Cornish (granite church, Celtic cross, etc), an inviting idealised landscape.
But what seems to have attracted Eurich most was the coast.Specifically, the boundaries between sea and sky and land, sometimes exact, sometimes more blurred. Indeed, as in premonitory late works of many other artists (including Turner, who Eurich admired), the boundaries are often dissolved and the elements merge.
These are paintings of weather, light and atmosphere.Their facture is erased in reproduction, which makes them look blander than they are. In reality, the brushstrokes are visible and various: broad in the sky of Evening, almost pointillist in Blizzard, and staccato in Stormy Sea (pictured).They give these works, which are modest in size, a specific physicality - augmented by some apposite frames.
Perhaps 'visionary', in the exhibition's title, overstates Richard Eurich's achievement. That adjective is better suited to his somewhat older contemporary, Paul Nash, whose landscapes are more singular and strange.
There are works of quiet distinction here, nonetheless.