An Exhibition by Jan and Cora Gordon at the XXI Gallery, 1925

I found this note (The Observer, February 22, 1925) on a 1925 show by Jan and Cora Gordon pleasing since it is also recorded in the diaries of my grandfather.

"Mr. Jan Gordon and Mrs. Cora Gordon, who are holding an exhibition of drawings and water-colours at the Twenty-one Gallery, are evidently possessed of the travel fever and of an insatiable curiosity which lures them to the most neglected parts of the globe. If they have chosen this nomad life, which takes them from Spain to Bosnia and from Bosnia to the Lofoden Islands and Lapland, the reason can only be their wanderlust, and not the craving for new material for picture-making ; for their art is of the kind that does not need the stimulant of ever new experiences in strange lands. The topographical interest is quite subordinate both in Mr. Gordon's bold and brilliant water-colours and in his wife's pencil drawings. The qualities on which they rely appertain to abstract organisation, and a Sussex village or a London suburb would serve them as well as a Lapland settlement or a Bazaar in Mostar."

"It is true that the gay colours - bright red and blue and green - with which the Lapland fishermen choose to paint their wooden houses are vastly different from the grey stone and brick buildings of an English fishing village, and that there is a stimulating clash of oriental and occidental architectural forms in the towns of Bosnia and of the Adriatic coast, but an artist as personal as Mr. Jan Gordon could give a red-tiled English roof in a verdant English landscape the same colour value as a red-painted house in Lapland, whilst Mrs. Gordon, whose drawings, even where they are "most representational," are always constructed on an abstract basis, could find the same or similar rhythm nearer home. If proof were needed, it is to be found in the fact that both artists have found their happiest inspiration in France, at Najac in Longuedoc. All this may serve to indicate the appeal that Mr. and Mrs. Gordon's art is purely aesthetic and does only in a very minor degree depend upon the curiosity aroused by their exploration of remote and little-known regions."

Ashley Smith's diaries record the following:

- 12/2/1925. The Gordons’ private view at XXI Gallery.

- 17/2/1925. Looked the Gordons up at 4 pm. They had sold 60 guineas worth of pictures.

On March 4th the Gordons had dinner with the Smiths and Jo appears to have talked excessively!

A little later this year Jo Gordon brought "The Master Fiddler of Sweden" to dinner, a story told here.


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