Manchester Art Fair 2018

The Philips Art Gallery opened in 1996 with an exhibition of paintings by a handful of talented graduates from the art schools of England and Scotland. Two decades on, twentieth century British and European art features prominently in gallery exhibitions alongside contemporary paintings. Occasionally, we have taken part in some of the more reputable art fairs in London, New York and Frankfurt, and throughout the life of the gallery, numerous solo and group exhibitions have kept the momentum going at our various locations in the centre of Manchester.

Over time, little has changed. Both the pursuit of a certain kind of artistic excellence and a healthy scepticism of fashion and reputation remain firmly in place as cornerstones of gallery activity in a complex and somewhat confusing art market.

The Philips presentation at the Manchester Art Fair spans more than half a century of international art. Martin Bradley's rise to the higher levels of the European art scene was meteoric, with his first solo exhibition at the Gimpel Fils Gallery in 1954 at the ripe old age of 23.

The reputation of John Alvaro Caldas, (1934-2006), continues to grow steadily, with collectors beginning to appreciate the quality of his work and his rightful place amongst the best post war European painters. Finding and organising a retrospective exhibition of his work at a major civic gallery is currently a gallery preoccupation.

We have a particular favourite painting by Terry Duffy whose career began in the 1970s, working with Joseph Beuys, John Cage and Roy Adzac. Decades later, as art movements came and went, Terry continued to quietly impress. Major exhibitions during the 2009 Venice Biennale and more recently in Cape Town by invitation of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have helped to cement his reputation as an artist of truly international standing.

Works by Chloe Fremantle, Jon Groom and James Coignard, (1925 – 2008), add to the overall mid to late twentieth century feel on our stand this year.

Many artists down the years have had a brief moment in the art world limelight, only for their reputations to fade as fashions change and new galleries replace the old, bringing fresh insights and a new generation of artists to the fore. We have always been drawn to such 'lost' art which, to our eyes, often improves with age as perspectives on the world inevitably change, and we can look back on past decades through a contemporary lens and perhaps rediscover something of aesthetic or cultural value from the fairly recent past. One such work is a Kenyan painting from 1987, brought back to the UK by an elderly couple who had lived in Africa for decades. Beautifully painted, modest and serious, it predates the more fashionable, self consciously African art which has received much attention in recent years.

  • Untitled. Oil on canvas by John Alvaro Caldas (1934 - 2006). 60 inches x 60 inches.
  • Untitled. Gouache on paper by John Alvaro Caldas (1934 - 2006). 18 inches x 24 inches.
  • Untitled. Oil on canvas painting by unknown Kenyan artist. Signed and dated 1987.

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