Keith Cunningham - The Cloud of Witness

Keith Cunningham - The Cloud of Witness

16 February – 10 July 2022

The Cloud of Witness

Damien Hirst's Newport Street Gallery reopens with the exhibition 'The Cloud of Witness', rediscovering artist Keith Cunningham, an elusive member of the School of London.

The opening event is open to all & held on the 15 of February between 6-8pm. This revelatory exhibition of over 70 works by Keith Cunningham will be on show from 16 February – 21 August 2022 at the Newport Street Gallery.

The little-known artist’s paintings were produced in London during the post-war period, an artistic environment dominated by the likes of Francis Bacon & Lucian Freud. A student at the Royal College of Art in the mid-1950s, Cunningham worked alongside major artists such as Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, and Jo Tilson.

Upon graduating the Royal College, Cunningham was invited to submit his paintings to the prestigious London Group, with whom he displayed his paintings for two consecutive years. His canvases were singled out by high-profile art writers for their rough materiality and suggestive presence. Frank Auerbach admired his 'outstanding talent,' and his tutor John Minton described him as 'one of the most gifted painters to have worked at the Royal College.'

Praised by critics, admired by peers and increasingly sought after by collectors, in the 1960s Cunningham was on the brink of reaching international fame. However, in 1967 he suddenly withdrew completely from the art world, refusing to submit his paintings to public exhibitions and hardly ever allowing outsiders to see his works.

Upon his death in 2014 at the age of 85, Cunningham had left behind a large collection of unseen works spanning over five decades. His paintings from the 1950s and 1960s, neatly stacked in his house facing the wall, had been kept hidden, amassed in his flat's spare room. In 2016, thanks to the efforts of his wife and friends, a small selection of his paintings was exhibited at Hoxton Gallery in London. Six years later, The Cloud of Witness discloses Cunningham's canvases to the public, offering a rare chance to rediscover his powerful, expressive forms.

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