Nicholas Jones: 30 Years at Crane Kalman Gallery Exhibition Catalogue

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All of us at Crane Kalman are delighted to present this exhibition celebrating the 30th anniversary of Nick Jones’s representation by the gallery. Nick has been a joy to work with throughout - his integrity and humility are unmatched. His commitment to painting only rivalled by devotion to his family.

Andrew, Robin and Sally


It’s not so easy being a landscape artist in the early 21st Century but Nick has remained faithful to the genre for 30 years, skilfully evolving his process, palette, subjectmatter and scenery, finding peace and wonder in equal measure; an artist of great diligence and dedication.

NICHOLAS JONES CRANE KALMAN GALLERY LTD 178 Brompton Road, London SW3 1HQ Tel: +44 (0)20 7584 7566 / +44 (0)20 7225 1931 /

30 Years at Crane Kalman Gallery

Nick Jones, 1990, Clifton Wood Studio, Bristol Photo credit: James Shapiro

Kayaking at Qikiqtarjuaq, Baffin Island 10 September 2018 Photo credit: Katie Quinn

NICHOLAS JONES 30 Years at Crane Kalman Gallery 23rd SEPTEMBER – 30th OCTOBER 2021

CRANE KALMAN GALLERY LTD 178 Brompton Road, London SW3 1HQ Tel: +44 (0)20 7584 7566 / +44 (0)20 7225 1931 /

Andras Kalman


A chance encounter with art dealer and collector Andras Kalman in June 1990 proved to be a pivotal moment in my life. This is the story of that meeting, and an expression of my appreciation for the unfailing support and encouragement that Andras showed me over the 17 years that I knew him. When I first met Andras I had just turned 25 and was barely three years out of Art College. He was in his early 70’s (though his exact age he kept a closely guarded secret), director of the Crane Kalman Gallery and an influential and highly respected figure in the London art world.

The Story When I look back over my life as a painter, meeting Andras was an encounter the importance of which it is hard to overstate. And yet, it could so easily not have happened. Though trained as a painter, I had spent the first two and a half years since leaving Art College working in stained glass, and had only been painting seriously for five months. Encouraged by the painter in the studio next door, I decided (perhaps somewhat surprisingly) that it was time to find a gallery in London to show my work. So armed with some transparencies of my ten completed paintings, a few of the smaller canvases in the car, and my allotted portion of the confidence of youth, I spent a couple of days, traipsing around London and calling in on some galleries where I thought my work might conceivably fit in. Walking into a gallery can be an intimidating experience at the best of times and the thought of touting my wares in that way now fills me with horror. It was not a great success. Having approached in vain all the galleries on my target list, I decided, with a measure of relief, to relax and use the rest of my stay to see some exhibitions. One of these was an exhibition of paintings by Sir Matthew Smith at the Crane Kalman Gallery, on the Brompton Road. I have to confess that when I stepped through its door, I knew nothing about this respected London gallery, and had never heard of its esteemed director Andras Kalman. I wandered around the show, enjoying the rich colour and effortless brushwork and was on the point of leaving when something surprising happened. Despite feeling that the establishment was quite out of my league, I felt inexplicably prompted to throw caution to the wind, and ask the elderly gentleman sitting at the antique desk (Mr Kalman himself) if he might look at some slides of my paintings. He very courteously agreed and, somewhat to my surprise, said that he would like to see three of the canvases if I might bring them into the gallery.

Crane Kalman Gallery

And so, a couple of days later, I returned with ‘Headland’ (Fig. 2) and ‘Rainswept Shore’ (Fig. 3). ‘Precipice’ (Fig. 4) was too big for the car. Andras said that they were ‘difficult paintings’, but he liked them and asked me to keep in touch.

Fig. 2. Headland, 1990

Fig. 3. Rainswept Shore, 1990

Fig. 4. Precipice, 1990

A few months later I sent Andras slides of eight new paintings of woods that I had done since my previous visit. Andras replied saying that he felt that the new work was a little out of tune with the usual sort of artists he dealt with, nevertheless he found ‘Plantation’ and ‘Firs’ ‘quite interesting’ and suggested that he might include them in a mixed show the following year. In March 1991 Andras mentioned that he had vague plans for an exhibition in the summer of ‘Paintings of Silence’ (Winifred Nicholson, Mary Newcomb and others) in which he may be able to include a couple of my pictures. And so in May that year I came to London with a selection of canvases in a van. I brought ‘Clearing’ (Fig. 5), ‘Mountain Birches’ (Fig. 9) and 20 works on paper into the gallery. Andras spent a long time looking at ‘Clearing’, and putting it on the wall, but found it too dark. He looked at ‘Mountain Birches’, and studied the works on paper very carefully. He asked me about them: What are their titles? Are they a set? I felt my answers were rather stumbling and inadequate. He repeated that they were difficult paintings and would be hard to sell. He seemed uncertain; it was difficult enough getting people into the gallery, he said, let alone for unknown artists. I suggested that I bring ‘Snow Fall’ (Fig. 6) and ‘Under the Willows’ (Fig. 7) in from the van. Robin (now a director at the gallery) helped with the ferrying. On seeing them, Andras became decidedly more enthusiastic and positive. ‘Sit down and have a cup of tea’, he said before beginning to quiz me on where I worked and what my studio was like, where I trained, which journals I read, if I visited exhibitions, the price of the work, and so on. He asked me if I was all-right for money, and seemed rather surprised to hear that I was married to a doctor. Robin mentioned that I had more paintings in the van, and Andras wanted to see them, so the three of us, carrying the canvases I had brought into the gallery, walked back to the van, and had a viewing of ‘Swollen River’ (Fig. 8) and the others against the railings of Brompton Square.

Fig. 5. Clearing, 1990

Fig. 6. Snow Fall, 1991

Having seen all the work Andras said that he found the paintings very beautiful and that he would like to give me a show. He asked me to go away and think about it and let him know. He urged me not to agree anything with other galleries without speaking to him first. Before we parted he repeated his offer of a show and said that as a sign of his good intentions he would buy three works when I had done a few more canvases. He then tentatively suggested that perhaps I could include a bit more colour as ‘a little bit of light relief ’. Nevertheless he said he found the paintings very romantic and moving. Though the promised exhibition did not materialise for some years, Andras bought ‘Mountain Birches’ (Fig. 9) and ‘Outback’ (Fig. 10) in June 1992 and took ‘Snow Fall’ (Fig. 6), and a number of other canvases on a sale or return basis.

The early years of the 1990’s were a difficult time for the gallery with the recession, his wife’s illness, and his own health issues. Nevertheless, Andras kept an eye on what I was producing and identified the paintings that he felt looked good and urged me not to be discouraged, even if he wasn’t able to help me as he might have hoped to do in better times. And so began an association with the Crane Kalman Gallery that has run ever since.

Reflections Over the years until his death in 2007 I would call in at the gallery four or five times a year. When I arrived Andras would get up from his chair to greet me. He would grip my hand in both of his whilst looking intently into my eyes as if he were searching for something. I felt that he liked me and was genuinely pleased to see me. He always asked after my wife and children and, on one occasion when I brought our three young children into the gallery to see one of my exhibitions, he spoke to each of them asking which of the pictures they liked the best. Not surprisingly I was very much in awe of Andras and I found my visits to the gallery strangely stressful. I felt rather uncomfortable and was uncertain quite ‘how to be’ in that environment. I suspect that Andras sensed something of this, and accepted it in a fatherly way whilst gently seeking to nurture my self-belief and facilitate my unfolding journey as a painter. Looking back, I wish that I had been able to be more fully present in his company, and had got to know him at a deeper level.

Fig. 7. Under the Willows, 1991

Fig. 8. Swollen River, 1990

Andras always gave me space to find my own path as a painter. He was unfailingly supportive and though he didn’t hesitate to speak his mind, any guidance that he gave was always offered with a very light touch (as with his repeated encouragement that I contemplate touches of red and other vivid colour, which I long resisted.) A number of other artists whom Andras ‘discovered’ and whose work he showed had also walked into the gallery unannounced off the street, most notably Alan Lowndes and Mary Newcomb. I am intrigued by what it was that Andras saw in those early works of mine (or in me) that led him to be so supportive from the first. Philip Vann noted in Andras’ obituary in the Guardian that what drew many people to the gallery was a ‘subtle, unsensational, contemplative quality’ to the work that he showed.Vann refers to the ‘Silence in Painting’ exhibition which finally took place in 1999 to mark the galleries 50th anniversary and describes ‘the resounding quietness’ manifested in landscapes of Giorgio Morandi, abstracts by Nicholson, and the spacious, luminous paintings of Mary Newcomb on display. Indeed, in Andras’ letter of 17th August 1999 (Fig. 11) asking if I had a ‘quiet’ painting for the ‘Silence in Painting’ exhibition, he explained that the artists he intended to include (Klee, Morandi, de Stael, Monet, Rothko, Nicholson, Lowry, etc.,) all shared a ‘certain reticence and stillness in their work’. Looking back I now wonder if on those first visits to the gallery, Andras discerned a quiet reticence in me that was beginning to manifest itself in my work even at that early stage of my development as a painter, and that he felt was worth nurturing.

Fig. 9. Mountain Birches, 1990

Fig. 10. Outback, 1991

Fig. 11. Letter from Andras Kalman, 17 August 1999

Though I would have considered ‘quiet reticence’ to be a positive personal attribute at the time, I now sense that some of what may have come across as reticence was more to do with my rather unformed and indistinct sense of self. For many artists painting is a way of making sense of life, and that was the case for me also. I was trying to find out who I was. Not surprisingly, the route took many twists and turns, some of which led to work that was not so in harmony with the usual kind of paintings that Andras showed, and in which quiet reticence was not so clearly on display. In time I began to settle in on abstracted landscapes that evoked a sense of spaceous stillness and quiet. I now recongnise that these paintings were less an expression of an inner state that I already possessed, but rather a compensation for something I lacked and was desperately seeking. This perhaps explains the sense of disconnect I sometimes felt when seeing my paintings hanging in the gallery, either in the excellent company of a Crane Kalman mixed show, or taking over the whole space in a solo exhibition. Of course, at the time, I was not consciously aware of any of this. I was simply following the powerful inner urge to paint, and in the rest of life was muddling by as best I could. I am so grateful that Andras stood by me through the various twists and turns of my journey. His belief in me helped carry me through. I was often surprised just how much he seemed to believe in me. For the last few years of his life Andras had my round canvas ‘The Abundance’ (Fig. 12), with its sought after splash of vivid red, hanging by the chair at home where he used to watch Wimbledon on television. (He had been a professional level tennis player in his youth). It is comforting to think that my painting was, in some small way, keeping him company as he became frailer and approached the end of his extraordinary life. In an interview with Charles Hall in the October 1993 edition of Art Review Andras said that, ‘A few artists I have shown have, alas, simply faded out. One of the things that you learn if you’re in the business for 40 years is that just supporting young artists is a worthy but misguided practice. Nine times out of ten they don’t have the aesthetic stamina, the imagination, or discipline to be endlessly refreshing. You ought to support artists of real quality. Artists make the mistake of thinking that galleries are hostile to them, but I wish I could find more marvellous talents. I would run after them.’ Those words have always stayed with me, but not in a heavy way or with any sense of pressure. Rather, they focussed my intention to joyously live up to the trust and belief that Andras placed in me, no matter what direction it might lead me in. Nick Jones June 2020

Fig. 12. The Abundance, 2004


This survey exhibition gives a brief overview of my output as a painter of landscape these past thirty years. From the very beginning I have occupied ground on, or near to, the boundary between the abstract and the figurative; sometimes both at the same time, sometimes more one side than the other. When I left Art College in 1987 however, I was usure of what I wanted to say as a painter, and for the next two and a half years hardly painted at all, working instead in the medium of stained glass. The drying up of commissions at the end of 1989 coincided with, and perhaps helped prompt, a sudden urge to return to painting, and over the next twelve months there was an outpouring of bleak, wild, desolate landscapes. As I worked on those paintings, I found myself acting and experimenting with a boldness and energy that didn’t seem possible in the rest of my life. I allowed myself to make mistakes and learned that even when things don’t turn out as hoped, still nothing is wasted, rather new possibilities arise. At that time my wife and I went on a number of long-distance walks in remote parts of Scotland, the Pyrenees and the Lake District. These were my first real experiences of wild and sublime landscape and they impacted me profoundly. It all felt like a wonderful new world, and the intensity of the feelings associated with those experiences is evident in the wild, textured, and largely monochrome work I produced. That intense first response to landscape then expressed itself in a series of paintings of fire. Though initially uncertain where these paintings were coming from, or what they might mean, I can now see that they have something of an alchemical quality about them and that they form a natural bridge between my early landscapes and the powerfully energetic and gestural brush work of the succeeding paintings. Given also that so much of my work has an elemental focus it is perhaps not surprising that at some point I would paint fire, alongside all the earth, air and water.

Left: Rainswept Shore, 1990 (detail) Oil on canvas 102 x 127 cm

Headland, 1990 Oil on canvas 51 x 61 cm Private collection

Rainswept Shore, 1990 Oil on canvas 102 x 127 cm Private collection

Swollen River, 1990 Oil on canvas 122 x 152 cm

Fire and Smoke, 1991 Oil on linen 138 cm sq

February Morning, 1995 Oil on board 15 x 20.5 cm

Blossom, 1995 Oil on linen 76 x 61 cm


For the next two decades I continued to paint landscape, exploring the rich terrain between abstraction and figuration. Generally, the direction of travel was from gestural and energetic abstract works toward more spacious, luminous, ethereal, still and silent paintings. Carl Jung’s belief that humans produce in art the images needed for their souls to transform makes sense of much of my work. Looking back, it is strikingly clear that as my inner and outer life became more troubled and painful over time, so my work gradually became ever more serene. Creating a visual refuge of calm, silence and stillness was clearly a kind of compensation for what was missing in my life. The primary subject matter of all these paintings however, was always landscape. Though long-distance walks in remote places became a thing of the past once our children were born, I would take daily short, slow walks down the lanes and through the fields and woods that surrounded our Somerset home. I found it astonishing what wonders could be seen when I took the time to look. All I did in the studio was a response to those experiences of the natural world, and an attempt to condense, distil out and evoke something of its beauty, in the hope that others might also glimpse the world with fresh eyes. The flow of abstracted landscape paintings culminated in a body of work produced between 2012-14 with an increasingly pure focus on colour and light. These spacious, luminous and emptied out ‘Light’ paintings, in turn, opened the way for my journey into the Arctic and the more figurative explorations of Arctic light and space that followed.

Left: Towards Dusk, 2002 Oil on linen 76 x 61 cm

The Descending Sun, 2003 Oil on board 20 x 25.5 cm

The Face of the Waters, 2001 Oil on linen 92 x 78 cm

A Break in the Rain, 2002 Oil on linen 36 x 30 cm

Coastal Meadow, 2002 Oil on linen 78 x 61 cm

The Flowering Sun, 2005 Oil on canvas 76.5 x 61.3 cm

The Ice Veil, 2002 Oil on linen 118 x 154 cm

The Singing Air, 2005 Oil on canvas 30.8 x 38.4 cm

The Bright Cloud, 2005 Oil on canvas 92 x 92 cm

The Wind-Washed Air, 2013 Oil on canvas 50.6 x 61.0 cm

In a Place of Stillness, 2014 Oil on canvas 77 x 92 cm


Antoine de Saint-Exupery, in his novella ‘The Little Prince’, writes that ‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’ I suspect that for me the creative process has been a working out of a longing to be more present and connected to the unseen, and the manifestations of the Divine Presence in the world around. By working instinctively, guided by ‘the eye of the heart’, it was my hope that I might be able to evoke or unveil aspects of the spiritual nature of reality that we so often miss in our perennial busyness. This longing to recover a more direct perception, to be able to see with the wonder of a child as if for the very first time, was something that I was conscious of as an art student and wrote about in my degree thesis. Though in some ways I lost sight of it for many years, I sense that it has been at work below the level of my conscious awareness, quietly shaping my journey as a painter ever since. Beginning in around 2005 I began to introduce into some of my paintings some hard edges: sweeping curves and interlocking shapes, in which different worlds, elements of landscape, or states of being were held together in one image. I enjoyed playing with the crisp, bold abstract shapes and the pattern and texture, however these paintings puzzled me, and at times I felt a little uncomfortable about the severity of the edges. But now, given how that underlying desire to see beyond the surface has come into focus, they feel like a kind of peeling back of the layers of reality; the crossing of a threshold into territories of otherness, and an attempt to hold those contradictions and different worlds together in balance and oneness.

Left: The Unfathomable Blue, 2011 Oil on canvas 169 x 138 cm

Winter Song, 2011 Gouache & oil on paper 15 x 20 cm

Sunlight and Air, 2010 Oil on canvas diameter 102.4 cm

As Dusk Falls, 2011 Gouache & indian ink on paper 15 x 20 cm

In Bright Water, 2006 Oil on canvas 51 x 61 cm

Heaven & Earth, 2011 Gouache & oil on paper 15 x 20 cm

The Tenderness of Twilight, 2009 Oil on canvas 61 x 76 cm

ICE & LIGHT 2014-21

Over time my abstracted landscapes gradually became more spacious, and full of light. As they did so I found myself being drawn to the empty, luminous landscapes of the Arctic. And so, in 2014 I made the first of a number of trips into the Arctic circle; firstly, to Finnish Lapland in pursuit of the Aurora, and then Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. I found the landscapes of northern Finland staggeringly lovely; a world of water, trees, snow and sky; silent and empty and bathed in the purest of lights. It felt as if I had stepped into the very landscape that I had long been dreaming of and trying to evoke on canvas. Prior to my 2018 Arctic Residency with the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute, I spent 18 months working on series of paintings exploring my growing fascination with the Far North and the mesmerising qualities of Arctic light. Many of the works focussed on the remarkable variety of optical phenomena that occur in Arctic skies and which evoke for me a sense of mystery and spiritual presence. At a deeper level, however, I now recognise that my fascination with the Arctic was also an expression of a desire to break free from an oppressive feeling of being limited and constrained, and into a landscape of infinite space and light. The two weeks I spent in Greenland and Baffin Island exceeded all my hopes and expectations. Freed from the routines and distractions of normal life I felt an unusual clarity of mind and an increasing connection to the rhythms and wonder of the natural world. I found it exhilarating being immersed in an environment made up of the simplest ingredients: ice, water, rock and light. Those intense experiences of vast Arctic space and its numinous light also seemed to induce a new and satisfying clarity to my paintings that now feels a long way from those foggier and more textured early works. It has been a fascinating journey and I am so very grateful to have been able to follow this path. As I look ahead, I sense a new chapter opening and feel a quiet excitement at the prospect of stepping into the unknown again and seeing what emerges.

Left: Ilulissat, Dawn, 2019, (Detail) Acrylic on canvas 61 x 76 cm

Between Night and Day, 2018 Acrylic on canvas 61 x 76.2 cm

A Cold Beauty; Lunar Halo, 2018 Acrylic on canvas 132.1 x 106.7 cm

Nacreous Clouds, 2017 Acrylic on paper 14.5 x 21.5 cm

Pink Aurora and Dead Spruce Trees, 2016 Oil on canvas 30.6 x 30.6 cm

Auroral Arch and Moon,Torassieppi, Finland, 2016 Oil on canvas 30.7 x 38.3 cm

Between Ice and Sky, 2018 Acrylic on canvas 76.3 x 61 cm

Ice Cliff,Twilight, Ilulissat, 2018 Acrylic on paper 15 x 20 cms

Ilulissat, Dawn, 2019 Acrylic on canvas 61 x 76 cm

Snow Falling at Sea Off Baffin Island, 2019 Acrylic on canvas 61 x 76 cm

Mountains and Alpenglow, 2019 Acrylic on canvas 138 x 168 cm

BIOGRAPHY 1965 1972-83 1983-87

Born Bristol Educated at Clifton College, Bristol Trained Bristol Polytechnic, BA (Hons) Fine Art.

Solo Exhibitions 1992 2000 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2008 2014 2017 2019

Coopers Gallery, Bristol Crane Kalman Gallery, London Crane Kalman Gallery, London Six Chapel Row, Bath ‘Travelling Light’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London ‘Travelling Light’, Chelsea Art Gallery, Palo Alto, California, USA ‘Traces in the Air’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London ‘Grace Notes’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London ‘Light’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London ‘Aurora’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London ‘Ice and Light’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London

Two Person Exhibitions 1991 1998 2011

‘Nick Jones & Mark Barnett’, Unit 6, Temple Meads Industrial Estate, Bristol ‘Nicholas Jones & Janet Watson’ Crane Kalman Gallery, London ‘Paintings by Nicholas Jones with sculptures by Tom Stogdon’, Crane Kalman Gallery

Selected Group Exhibitions 1988 1991 1991 1992 1992 1994-96

Royal West of England Academy, Bristol St George’s Crypt Gallery, Bristol Midlands Contemporary Art, Birmingham Plymouth Arts Centre Crane Kalman Gallery, London Contemporary Art Society, Royal Festival Hall, London 1996 ‘Young Blood’ Crane Kalman Gallery, London 1996 & 97 Schoolhouse Gallery, Bath 1997 Gordon Hepworth Fine Art, Exeter 1999 Six Chapel Row, Bath 1999 Nature in Art, Wallsworth Hall, Gloucester 1999 ‘Silence in Painting’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London

2000 2000 2001 2001 2003 2003

Napier Gallery, Jersey Art First, 9 Cork Street, London ARCO, Madrid Glyndebourne Art Basel-Miami, South Beach, Florida Riverview Art Gallery, Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. 2004 ‘British Landscape Painting in the Twentieth Century’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London 2019 Artist Explorers, Twenty-Twenty Gallery, Ludlow 2019 Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London 2019 & 20 Autumn Exhibition, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol 2021 ‘The Sea; the Sea’, Sladers Yard, Dorset

Awards 1990 2018

South West Arts Fine Art Project Award Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute Arctic Artist in Residence

Corporate & Museum Collections Freshfields International Law Firm, London Brown Brothers Harriman Ltd, London EC2 Lloyds TSB Group Plc, London EC3 Nature in Art, Wallsworth Hall, Gloucester

Publications ‘Silence in Painting’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London, 1999 Nicholas Jones, Crane Kalman Gallery, London, 2000 Nicholas Jones, Crane Kalman Gallery, London, 2002 ‘Against the Trend’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London, 1999 Nicholas Jones, ‘Travelling Light’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London, 2004 ‘British Landscape Painting in the Twentieth Century’, Crane Kalman Gallery, 2004 Nicholas Jones, ‘Traces in the Air’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London, 2006 Nicholas Jones & Tom Stogdon, Crane Kalman Gallery, London, 2011 Nicholas Jones, ‘Light’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London, 2014 Nicholas Jones, ‘Aurora’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London, 2017 Nicholas Jones, ‘Ice and Light’, Crane Kalman Gallery, London, 2019

Nick Jones, 1990, Clifton Wood Studio, Bristol Photo credit: James Shapiro

Kayaking at Qikiqtarjuaq, Baffin Island 10 September 2018 Photo credit: Katie Quinn

All of us at Crane Kalman are delighted to present this exhibition celebrating the 30th anniversary of Nick Jones’s representation by the gallery. Nick has been a joy to work with throughout - his integrity and humility are unmatched. His commitment to painting only rivalled by devotion to his family.

Andrew, Robin and Sally


It’s not so easy being a landscape artist in the early 21st Century but Nick has remained faithful to the genre for 30 years, skilfully evolving his process, palette, subjectmatter and scenery, finding peace and wonder in equal measure; an artist of great diligence and dedication.

NICHOLAS JONES CRANE KALMAN GALLERY LTD 178 Brompton Road, London SW3 1HQ Tel: +44 (0)20 7584 7566 / +44 (0)20 7225 1931 /

30 Years at Crane Kalman Gallery

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