David Bomberg (1890 - 1957) has long been overlooked in the official story of British Modernism. This year, his art and its legacy seem finally to be having a moment. The Tate has a show of the Borough group in the pipeline, where Bomberg will loom large as the teacher to draw these artists together, and we are pleased to be preparing our own exhibition 'Bomberg: Paintings and drawings from a private collection' to open on the 1st of November at our London gallery. Most significantly for the artist's reputation however, Pallant House Gallery in Chichester opened its doors last Saturday to a major retrospective of Bomberg's career. It will tour to the Laing Art Gallery and the Ben Uri, and is accompanied by a new monograph.
The exhibition has been curated to represent Bomberg's considerable stylistic range. Over 70 works are on display to give ample attention to each stage of his development - from the years he spent exhibiting alongside the Vorticists, to his more topographic landscape paintings of Palestine.
There are some masterful works on display, including rarely displayed oils such as his 1931 self-portrait, showing the artist in his early forties, cross-legged in a chair with his chin raised in an air of urbane confidence. Whatever their existing knowledge of Bomberg's practice, visitors will likely leave Pallant House Gallery with a new respect for his adaptability. With its beautifully illustrated monograph, the exhibition will help solidify Bomberg's life's work for posterity.
Bomberg began his remarkable career studying under Walter Sickert at the Slade, before coming under the influence of Picasso, Derain and Modigliani during a trip to Paris. Refusing to formally sign up to any one movement, he had a brief stint at the Bloomsbury Omega Workshops, and exhibited alongside Wyndam Lewis and the Vorticists as well as the Camden Town Group. His hybrid Modernist style won him work as an official artist during both world wars. After this, he travelled to Spain and Palestine, where he produced a host of inspired landscape works. Although he died in relative obscurity, a few enlightened individuals hailed him as an exceptional talent, and within a year the Arts Council organised a retrospective.
The Pallant House Gallery exhibition is an all too rare opportunity to celebrate an influential artist with, as his obituary in the Times read, a 'rare independence of vision.' This year being the 60th anniversary of his death, it seems none too soon that his reputation should be restored.
Pallant House Gallery (9 North Pallant, Chichester, PO19 1TJ)
'Bomberg' is running at Pallant House Gallery between 21 October 2017 - 4 February 2018.