The Jan Gordon Memorial Exhibition 1944

A memorial exhibition for Jan Gordon was held between April 14th and May13th 1944. Accounts in the Manchester Guardian and The Observer are summarised below.

The Manchester Guardian, April 18th 1944, page 3:

"It matters very little whether one thinks of Jan Gordon as a critic who painted or a painter who wrote, or even as an author of travel-books who used his brush as freely as his pen to describe his adventures and still had time to spare for writing about other men's pictures. What matters is that whatever he did was done in the same spirit - the holiday spirit. To visit the memorial exhibition of his pictures at the Modern Gallery in Charles II Street is to find oneself sharing and enjoying Gordon's holiday mood."

"There are pictures of windmills in Portugal, churches in Albania, back streets in France, hillsides in Lapland, and Pussyfoot meetings in New York, all seen through a pair of eyes on the look-out for the picturesque and colourful and aimed ready for adventure. They are not subtle or searching, they are robust and forthright - as though he had sided finally with Dickens against Henry James, deciding that as long as the world contained red and yellow and white buildings and steep hills and blue August skies it was a waste of time to search for different shades of grey or to dwell on the subtle gradations of a dull day in February."

"The born wanderer is evident alike in Gordon's books and in his pictures. They are the pictures of a man who was always on the move, alert and enjoying everything so long as it was exciting and, if possible, cheerful. They are even the pictures of a sightseer - but a sightseer who has long since abandoned Baedeker and the railway guide and uses only his eyes and his legs. Even in England, in his own home in Bayswater, he kept his sense of elementary wonderment. But the holiday maker's zest is seen at its most potent in the sunbaked uplands of Portugal or the fiercely painted churches of the Balkans."

The Observer April 30th, 1944, page 2:

"At the Modern Gallery in Charles II-street there is now on view a memorial exhibition of the work of Jan Gordon. In his painting Gordon displayed those same qualities of simplicity and directness of statement that THE OBSERVER readers long ago learnt to appreciate in his writing. In his pictures it is never necessary to read between the lines; everything is straightforward. Nevertheless, the forms, though simple are fully realised, and though the colour may not be judged subtle, it is invariably clean and handled with a deceptive air of ease. No false shame about the picturesque ever inhibited him from recording what gave him pleasure or from communicating that pleasure to us. His garden may not have been very large or spectacular, but he realised the wisdom of cultivating it, and of how many artists equally well informed about, and interested in what their contemporaries are doing, can one say as much?"


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