Euan Uglow 1932-2000

Provenance

Claude Rogers

Browse & Darby/ Archeus Fine Art

Yello Gallery, Cork 2003

James Hyman Fine Art

Private Collection

Exhibitions

1961, London, Beaux Arts, Paintings and Drawings, cat. no. 1

1962, Cheltenham, Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, Drawing towards Painting: Six Young Painters. Peter Blake, William Crozier, John Hoyland, Sonia Lawson, Dorothy Mead, Euan Uglow, cat. no. 36

2003, London, James Hyman Fine Art, From Life: Radical Figurative Art from Sickert to Bevan, cat. no. 37, col. ill., pp. 78-79.

2016, London, Piano Nobile, William Coldstream | Euan Uglow: Daisies and Nudes, 22 November 2016 - 14 January 2017, cat.no. 8, col. ill. p. 29. 

Literature

Catherine Lampert, Euan Uglow: The Complete Paintings (New Haven and London, 2013), cat. no. 68, col. ill., p. 28.


A seminal work in Uglow’s career, 'Seated Nude', c. 1954 signalled his departure from student days into self-assured maturity. Painting alongside William Coldstream in the Slade life room from around 1952 until 1955, both artists produced a series of nudes from the same models, working for the first time as peers rather than teacher and student. Claude Rogers, another teacher at the Slade who influenced a young Uglow, owned 'Seated Nude' – evidently, Rogers saw in Seated Nude an accomplished and mature piece by a former student. The painting was the first work in Uglow’s first commercial exhibition, held at Helen Lessore’s Beaux Arts gallery in 1961, which garnered critical attention. A review in The Times singled out 'Seated Nude' for praise: “Particularly beautiful are the seated nude whose flesh gathers up a milky radiance from the pale blue, rose and white of her background”..

The model is painted seated in a wooden chair, angled slightly to her left. We see her in close proximity: legs cropped at the knee by the canvas jut into our space and her form encompasses almost the entire canvas. She is statuesque, with an undeniable presence and solidity, gaze cast downwards benevolently like a modern-day Virgin Mary, the enthroned Madonna of the Slade studio.

Sustained scrutiny, interrogation of vision and specificity were the bed-rock of Uglow’s figuration. Uglow later stated in conversation with Martin Gayford, “I’m not interested in producing pictures; I’m interested in…personal research”. A finished painting was incidental to the main thrust of the exercise, that of examining perception. All elements of perception are considered in 'Seated Nude'. The concept of the gestalt was taught to students at the Slade, and directly or indirectly, in 'Seated Nude' Uglow seeks to recreate the lived and embodied experience of encountering another being. Continuing his interview with Gayford, Uglow argued: “I don’t know what true to life is. Painting’s artifice, isn’t it. It’s nothing to do with being true to life – what the hell is life? – you’re trying to construct a new world so that it can stand.” The model possesses a sculptural weight: the bulk of her thighs are firmly planted into the chair whilst her torso and breasts sag with the impression of heaviness. Uglow employs contours in black to emphasise the projection of her chest and the curve of upper thigh meeting stomach. Directional light grounds the work in a specific time and place. Light falls from the upper right, catching on her upper thighs, chest, right breast, left shoulder and forehead, situating her in a realistic space. Uglow focuses on fashioning flesh, capturing the complexities of texture and tones of the model’s skin. Paint is built up in pinks, whites, greens and greys in dense strokes forming an impenetrable, uninterrupted surface. With 'Seated Nude', Uglow fundamentally subverts the nude genre: she is disinterested in us, unknowable and inscrutable, not painted for our pleasure yet inexorably present.