1926 - 2014
In 1952 Alan Reynolds was 26 years old, still at Art school but he was the young prodigy, discovered to the enchantment of the traditionalists and accepted, though in an observant spirit, by the crusaders of extremism. He was an artist who could be considered to be continuing the tradition of English landscape painting while producing art contemporary to the time and modern in concept. He was entirely unknown yet able to develop, in the chaos if conflicting modern opinions on art, an individual style so deeply rooted in the most precious of English traditions. Alan Reynolds was plucked out of obscurity by the Redfern gallery and produced an exhibition of 24 small works for his first one man show in 1952. I personally think that Reynolds had a skill like no other . He was able to penetrate the spirit of nature so that he produces the totality of each landscape not in detail, not in a grand or picturesque way but in a mystical and magical way that transfers his love of nature to the viewer and the mood of the day smacks you in the neo-romantic eye.
By the mid 1950s, Reynolds was sought after by collectors, both traditional and modern. From these first exhibited works there is a consistent concern for formal and structural elements of composition. From the outset, he revered the art and writing of Paul Klee; and he was later indebted to Mondrian, whose transformations of trees and branches into vertical and horizontal notations were shown at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1955. He also studied traditional Chinese landscape painting, and his highly praised botanical studies - ears of corn, teazles and grasses - possess an exquisite calligraphic subtlety. Reynolds imposed a strict visual order onto each specific view: the essence of the Kentish orchards, hop gardens, fields and barns was presented in formal and geometric terms - balanced triangles, circles, semi-circles, rectangles, fan-shaped trees.
In 1953, Reynolds saw his painting as:
a problem of solving equations; tonal, linear and so on. The subject or motif must be transformed and become an organic whole. Poetry is never absent from Nature, but alone it cannot constitute a work of art. It must be reconciled with the elements of design and composition. Laying emphasis on the formal values in a work will therefore result in a degree of abstraction. With the Four Seasons exhibition of 1956, Reynolds reached the apogee of his popularity, bringing the large satisfactions of landscapes into the galleries (Robert Melville).
His next show, in 1958 at the Leicester Galleries, saw a return to a more hard-edged approach, as if the work exhibited at the Four Seasons had taken him to far towards the representational. Melville noted that his paintings spring from needs that are not satisfied by the pleasures of the picturesque. These were the last pure landscapes that Reynolds was to exhibit. He felt he was repeating himself and much of his output from 1958 and 1959 was destroyed. In his 1960 exhibition, back at the Redfern Gallery, he presented non-figurative work, albeit with the same earthen colours and shapes of the landscape. To the many viewers who could not or would not accept Reynolds' new work this ended his rise to stardom and his output from 1952 to 1959 some short 7 years is still considered to be the most innovative and highly collected.