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See DG's recent work (2004-2007)(2007)(2008)(2009)(2014)



"David Graham graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1951. In the same year, he exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy. Graham's skill in fondling paint is evident. He is particularly concerned with the light and colour of his subjects and his spontaneous paintings (all painted on site) have a vibrancy and richness which transform them into images of visual and emotional experience." Patricia Herrod, Bruton St. Art Gallery


Paintings are for sale. Prices on application. They can be viewed at:
2 Curran Studios • Lucan Place, Chelsea • SW3 London - UK

Tel. 0208 6993 790 (London) Tel. +34 658 173 682 (Spain)


Lauderdale House

Lauderdale House Map

BUS: 143, 210, 271, W5 (directly to the House), 4, 10, 17, 41, 43, 134, 263, C11 (to Archway Station), 4 and C11 in Magdala Ave
NEAREST TUBE: Archway (Northern Line).


Retrospective Exhibition, Part IV

David Graham paintings in a beautiful setting of historical interest

Retrospective exhibition of more than a 100 oil on canvas paintings of David Graham RP will be on show from Wednesday 10th of August til Sunday 4th of September, 2011, at the galleries of Lauderdale House in Waterlow Park.

This exhibition comprised part of his recent work in Spain, Prague, Cordoba, Marrakech, Israel, Venice, Paris, and several portraits

Built in 1582, Lauderdale House is an arts and education centre based in the beautiful Waterlow Park. We run an extensive programme of performances, workshops, outreach projects and exhibitions.

Lauderdale House, Highgate Hill, Waterlow Park
London N6 5HG • Tel: 020 8348 8716

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David Graham's work at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London

Mall Galleries, Trafalgar Square, The Mall, London SW1 www.therp.co.uk/


In June 1891 the society held its first exhibition. It included works by the members and also works from such well-known portrait painters as Sir John Everett Millais, G.F. Watts and James McNeill Whistler.

David Graham exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition


"Akko" (Israel), by David Graham, 1987. Oil on canvas, 40"x36". £8.500

"Malaga", by David Graham. Backyard of Picasso's Museum in Malaga City. Oil on canvas, 40"x36". £7.000
The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition has a theme: printmaking and the multiple. Over the years the Print Room in the Summer Exhibition has become increasingly popular. Commercially successful and artistically interesting, it shows work that not only sells but also reveals a wide range of printmaking techniques. This year’s Summer Exhibition offers the same extraordinary range of media and artistic invention, but focuses attention on works that use traditional as well as new printmaking technologies.

Artists have always wanted to make poetry through mechanics. Many of the greatest artists – from Rembrandt, Blake and Goya to Munch, Picasso, Rauschenberg and Hockney – have made printmaking central to their artistic output. Prints are a uniquely sensitive and graphic way of expressing ideas, and many artists today are alive to a world that is buzzing with printed and virtual imagery and the visual and communicative potential it offers.

This exhibition contains works by artists who translate their ideas through woodcut and etching, processes that go back centuries; by those who use innovative print techniques, such as photography and video; and by those who employ inkjet, giclée and other processes that are derived from new technologies. Whether artists are using pencils or computers, and whether they are producing works of art in an edition of one or 1,001, this year’s Summer Exhibition shows the enormous possibilities afforded by printmaking in all its manifestations.

The show’s democratic nature is also mirrored in the number of works submitted from overseas. Alongside famous names are works by artists from as far afield as Australia and China, proving once again that the Summer Exhibition is a celebration of quality and diversity.

Click here to visit www.ramagazine.org.uk and read features about this exhibition

Royal Academy of Arts

See DG's recent work (2004-2007)(2007)(2008)(2009)


David Graham's work at The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition

Mall Galleries, Trafalgar Square, The Mall, London SW1

Mamadou in Senegal
Lady in a boat
Leylah de Prada
Maribi Arnedo de Prada
Martha painting David

In June 1891 the Royal Society of Portrait Painters held its first exhibition. It included works by the members and also works from such well-known portrait painters as Sir John Everett Millais, G.F. Watts and James McNeill Whistler. By the late 1980's the Society had become both a registered company and a registered charity, and was beginning to attract the generosity of sponsors in furthering its charitable aims. In 1991 the Society celebrated its centenary with an historical exhibition of works by past members loaned by the major art collections of the country. The Royal Society of Portrait Painters continues to seek to promote excellence in portrait painting in all its forms, regardless of style or popularity.

Maria Vega in Fuengirola
Miss Luz
Tato Coca
Fatima at Marrakech
Marrakech, odalisque


Txema de Prada
Txema de Prada, at Cafe Central
Victor de Prada
Yanina and María Cacciatore


The Royal Society of Portrait Painters is a registered charity which aims to promote, maintain, improve and advance education in the Fine Arts and in particular to encourage the appreciation, study and practice of the art of portraiture.

The Annual Exhibition is held at The Mall Galleries, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5BD.


"David Graham is a painter whose work has never been shown on a large scale. This year, the 25th anniversary of the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, has provided him with a unique opportunity to present to the public a major exhibition of his paintings about Israel.

Over the course of the past six years Graham has made seventeen separate visits to Israel with the specific intention of recording his impressions of the country while actually on location. It is an achievement which required dedication and a determined sense of mission.

The paintings, witness to his accomplishment, represent the many facets of the life and terrain of Israel. Collectively they are a remarkable document of the cities, the people, the secular and religious architecture, and the extraordinary and beautiful features of the landscape. They bring to mind Turner's nineteenth Century views of England and the Continent.

They are a contemporary exploration of interesting places and also a personal development. Indeed for Graham the activity and total experience of painting is as important as it was with Turner, Monet and Sickert before him. Graham is concerned with the light and colour of his subjects. Consequently, all his paintings have a vibrancy and richness which reflect his delight in transforming the ever changing face of nature into images of visual and emotional experience.

Sharing a water pipe with bedouins in Jericho (Israel), 1995
David Graham painting on site down below in Tajo de Ronda (Spain)


His subjects range from the subtle light of an evening skyline over Jerusalem to the Negev desert and the monumental cliffs of Solomon s Pillars. They span from Filat to Dan. The Western Wall and markets of Jerusalem contrast with the pastoral views of the Mount of Olives and the oasis of Jericho. Graham has looked at Israel with a sympathetic, yet objective eye.
It is not difficult to appreciate Graham's skills in handling paint or his ability to respond to his subjects with flair, honesty and economy of purpose.

This website is a tribute to Graham's years of endeavour and a rewarding experience for those who come to share his vision."

Patrick Day. Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. Coventry


Self-portrait, 1950 (Click to enlarge)

"There are four letters from David Graham to Ruth Borchard. The first three were sent from his studio in Chelsea, London SW3 but the year was not dated. The fourth, from Gravesend, is dated '10 Aug 60: 'I have moved from Chelsea where you originally wrote to me regarding a self-portrait.'

In the first letter, he writes: 'The best self portrait I have happens to be a black and white lithograph, I also have a 15" x 10" sketch portrait in oils... The two pictures together will be 1Ogns.' At the top of this letter, Ruth has written in pencil, 'Asked for oil sketch only 14/3/59' - for which, as Graham noted in his second letter, 'The price is 8 guineas.'

The painting is dated 1950, when the artist was living in what he now calls 'a very dark room in Euston - at seven shillings and ninepence a week - in a building that was con demned'. Born into a Jewish family in London in 1926, Graham was about twenty-four years old when he painted it. 'A very dark room in Euston' is a peculiarly, poetically apt loca-tion for a painter very much influenced by Sickert and then by the Euston Road School. Graham portrays himself as a slender, sensitive, serious-minded youth with a handsome, rather noble-looking head. The rich, painterly treatment of the green-tinged background and the artist's yellow-and-ruddy skin is somewhat reminiscent of Gustave Courbet, as in the latter's portrait of the poet Baudelaire.

He was impressed early on by reading A Free House! Or The Artist as Craftsman; Being the Writings of Walter Richard Sickert, edited by Osbert Sitwell (Macmillan & Co., London, 1947). In a 1910 essay, 'The Idealism News', Sickert wrote: 'It is because the portrait-painter is not free - he fills a useful and honourable place in a world of supply and demand - that I con-tinue rather to draw attention to work outside... limitations. The more our art is serious, the more will it tend to avoid the drawing-room and stick to the kitchen. The plastic arts are gross servants, dealing joyously with gross material facts. They call, in their servants, for a robust stomach and a great power of endurance, and while they flourish in the scullery, or on the dunghill, they fade at a breath from the drawing-room.'

What, in a 1954 essay in Encounter magazine, David Sylvester called contemporary 'Kitchen Sink' art, was thus part of a long tradition - with antecedents in Chardin, for example, and Sickert. David Graham never set out consciously to make 'Kitchen Sink' paintings but his early work depicted drab and mundane urban life. A newspaper article, 'Love on the Rates: It's a little chilly for the models' by Francis Martin (Evening Standard, November 13th 1953), featured three young artists, including Graham (photographed looking tall, slender and serious in a suit, with thick dark hair, as he 'paints his favourite model- his wife, June Patricia'), who had settled into some stu-dios built specially by Chelsea Borough Council (with rents varying from 48 shillings to £3 a month). Graham is quoted as saying: 'Before I came here I had a gaslit room in Euston... An 80-year-old widow had the room above, an old woman who sold newspapers the room below. The three of us shared a sink and water-tap on the landing. All very squalid and, from the artistic angle, fascinating.' The article tells of a portrait (sold then for £35) of 'five of Graham's neighbours, whom he paid three or four shillings to pose for him, in the room at Euston. It is a strongly handled, melancholy piece.'

A Room in Euston. "Five of Graham's neighbours" (1951) by David Graham. Private collection. (Click to enlarge)

The Teaching Staff of the Painting School, Royal College of Art (1949-50) by Rodrigo Moynihan. Tate, London. (Click to enlarge)

The portrait of 'Five of Graham's neighbours' was shown in his 1951 degree show, and then illustrated in black-and-white in Young Artists of Promise. The setting of A Room in Euston is a nondescript bed-sitting room (actually Graham's 'condemned' room in Euston). A plump, bearded man in a hat and an over-coat - in life, an elderly Russian gentleman - sits on a chair. A woman stands at a canvas on an easel. At the right a youngish black man stands, wearing an overcoat and beret. Another young woman sits by him on a couch, and to the left of the Russian, a girl lies on the bed. (These in life were twin sisters, painting students). The walls are bare, except for odd sketches on the wall. Graham painted the sitters individually and separately, bringing them together for the overall composition. This may help explain not only the beautifully evoked atmosphere of nervous isolation and disconnectedness in the room, but also each sitter's meditative dignity.

Graham recollects today that sources of inspiration for A Room in Euston included two paintings, each showing the gath-ering of a group of artists in a room: Gustave Courbet's The Painter's Studio (1855) and The Teaching Staff of the Painting School, Royal College of Art (1949-50) by Rodrigo Moynihan, Graham's own teacher. In Moynihan's picture, John Minton is shown on the far left, seemingly separated from the main group. Moynihan had based his painting on a photograph taken by Ruskin Spear's nephew, Eric Stanley, which showed, among others, Carel Weight, Robert Buhler, Kenneth Rowntree, Ruskin Spear, and Moynihan himself on the far right; Moynihan had added the image of Minton - not originally present in the pho-tographed scene - to the composition. As the critic John Russell wrote in his preface to the exhibition of Moynihan's 'Paintings 1970-73' (at Fischer Fine Art, London, 1973), 'the look of John Minton, sealed up in his own apartness, is one of the most haunting of contemporary likenesses. As with Moynihan's still-lifes of the 1940s, there is a point of historical reference for these groups in Courbet's The Studio or Degas' account of the cotton-brokers in New Orleans.'

In a letter to the author (May 24th 2002), Graham wrote: 'my first three paintings exhibited in London was at the Leicester Galleries (Leicester Sq.), the annual exhibition, 'ARTISTS OF FAME AND PROMISE' in 1951, chosen by Oliver Brown (Just on [my] leaving the RCA)... It was stimulating to see one's paint-ings against Sickert, John, Piper, etc. etc..'

In 1957, Graham made two remarkable paintings of London's Piccadilly Circus, with heavily overcoated, haunted-looking figures wandering down dark streets lit by neon signs. One picture is dominated by the huge, red curvilinear sign (with white lettering) for Coca Cola, and a sign for 'Forte's Popular' (the word 'Cafe' being obscured by a lamp-post); the other by a Guinness advertisement. These pictures - at once sinister and cosy in atmosphere - seem unconsciously to unite Sickert's. 'gross material facts' of urban life with, presciently, qualities of early Pop Art.

For almost thirty years, Graham was an art school teacher in London, becoming senior lecturer at the Sir John Cass School of Art. For many of these years, he showed portraits in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Many show isolated or vulnerable yet resilient-looking figures set against starkly defined back-grounds, as in a 1975 Degas-influenced portrait of Nestoras Manetas - the Greek Student - a portly, bearded young man, hauntingly introspective in demeanour.

A frequent sitter in recent years has been Martha Graham, his second wife. In a spatially complex and ingenious double portrait, c.1988, we see - distantly reflected in a mirror - the artist at his easel. In front of him sits Martha, herself at an easel, painting a still-life of fruit, flowers and an archaic mask. The back of her head of luxuriant black hair is pictured in the fore-ground. In the mirror we see Graham standing - looking alert and quizzical- and Martha sitting - a fresh, exploratory look on her face. To the right of their own reflections, the backs of each of their canvases are mirrored: two tiny rectangles, one on top of the other.

Graham especially enjoys painting en plein air, in latter years reverting, he says, 'to what I was doing when I was younger', when 'through necessity, through lack of accommodation... I was painting out of doors.' His subjects have included the river Thames, French, Malaga and spanish landscapes, and Venice. A 1987 exhibition, 'David Graham - Recent Work; 100 Paintings of Israel', at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry was the result of seventeen visits to Israel over a period of six years.

The sombre yet evocatively distilled bedsitter palette of his early years has moved on to the vibrancy of golden-hued pictures depicting gardens, markets and religious settings like the Western or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, deserts, oases, mountains and rocks (notably the ultra-coppery Solomon's Pillars, the sub-jects of some fine, ambitious pictures on .the verge of abstrac-tion). Though freer in their handling of paint and radically higher in light voltage than he was once used to as a young painter, his 1980s portraits of young Bedouin men in their ten~s, a Coptic priest immersed in a book, and a young Arab woman, reach back to the poignant, introverted portraiture of Graham's early days in Euston and Chelsea.

Face to Face: British Self - Portraits in the Twentieth Century by Philip Vann. Samson & Company, Bristol 2004



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