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Jesse Bruton Art Exhibition at Ikon Gallery Birmingham

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Works By A Founding Member Of Ikon
The story behind one of the founding artists of Birmingham's respected Ikon art gallery will unfold over the summer with a special free exhibition.

Jesse Bruton, exhibition, Ikon, art gallery, Birmingham,
Jesse Bruton in his studio (c. 1969). Photo by Peter Cox. Image courtesy of the artist and Ikon.


A Jesse Bruton exhibition at Ikon in Birmingham city centre from July 6 to September 11 will tells the fascinating story of his artistic development, starting in the 1950's and ending in 1972 when Bruton abandoned painting for painting conservation.

An Ikon spokeswoman said: "Like many of his contemporaries, Bruton developed an artistic proposition inspired by landscape. Many of his early paintings were of the Welsh mountains and the Pembrokeshire coast. Alive to the aesthetic possibilities of places he visited, he made vivid painterly translations based on a stringent palette of black and white."

Bruton studied at the College of Art in Birmingham and went on to become a lecturer there during the early 1960s, following a scholarship year in Spain and a stint of National Service. After teaching at the Bath Academy of Art, the artist exhibited in a number of group shows in Birmingham, especially at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, and had a solo exhibition at Ikon shortly after the gallery opened to the public in 1965, and again in 1967.

Jesse Bruton, exhibition, Ikon, art gallery, Birmingham,
Jesse Bruton, Devil's Bowl (c.1965). Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of the artist and Ikon.


Bruton has said of his work: "I wasn't particularly interested in colour. I wanted to limit the formal language I was using to work tonally gradating from black to white, leaching out the medium from the paint in order to enhance a variety of textures. I also felt that colour got in the way of describing the structure of the landscape."

Experts from Ikon have highlighted some of the paintings to look out for in the exhibition. These include Bruton's painting Rising Locks, which depicts a run of canal locks and has repetitive, almost cubist, gestures inside an oval shape.

Although Bruton was engaged in a process of stylistic distillation, his later paintings are described as appearing calligraphic, involving white bands meandering across black surfaces, modulated by texture through brushstrokes in different mixtures of medium and pigment.This is exemplified in artworks Winding, Turnabout and Back-up.

Jesse Bruton, exhibition, Ikon, art gallery, Birmingham,
Jesse Bruton, Rising Locks (c.1965). Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of the artist, Midge Skene and Ikon


The exhibition, supported by the Mill Dam Trust and David Owen, is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, including text by Ikon Director Jonathan Watkins.

Jesse Bruton At Ikon Gallery
Ikon Gallery, 1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace,
Birmingham, B1 2HS
July 6 - September 11, 2016
Free entry
Ikon is open Tuesday Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays, 11am - 5pm.
Admission is free. Ikon Gallery is supported using public funding from Arts Council England and Birmingham City Council.
For further information, visit the Ikon website.
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Why? See works by one of Ikon's founding artists
When: July to September, 2016
Phone: 0121 248 0708
Where: Ikon Gallery, 1 Oozells Square, Birmingham city centre
Cost: Free
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