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Philip Reeves RSA PPRSW RGI RE (1931-2017)

10 August @ 11:00 am - 31 August @ 4:00 pm


Compass Gallery is celebrating our long association with the life and works of Master Printmaker and collage artist Philip Reeves.


Born in Cheltenham in 1931, his father was a commercial printer and sympathetic toward his ambitions to go to art school. Reeves attended Cheltenham School of Art before undertaking National Service (1949-51) which he served firstly with the 8th Royal Tank Regiment and then with the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards in Libya. Whilst in the army Reeves carried a small sketchbook and pen behind his paybook in his top pocket in which he drew army bases and tanks.


Reeves gained a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art (RCA), London, where he was taught by the esteemed printmaker Robert Austin. Contemporaries of Reeves were Carel Weight, John Bratby and John Minton and exponents of the ‘kitchen sink school’ that favoured a style of gritty realism, as well as Bridget Riley. He also came under the influence of Eric Ravilious and Paul Nash, both of whom carried the torch for a Modernist sensibility in Britain.  Despite these Modernist influences, during his time at the RCA Reeves produced etchings of London cityscapes in what he described as a ‘very traditional’ style.


Coming to the end of his course at the RCA in 1954, Reeves gained a job teaching etching at Glasgow School of Art (GSA). He became the Head of Printmaking in 1970, where he remained until 1991. The reach of Reeves’ influence during his long tenure at GSA is evident in the high regard placed on him by his students, many of whom have themselves gone on to receive great acclaim. He made an immediate and important impact on GSA by setting up the specialised Printmaking Department, separating it from commercial graphic art and bringing it to the Fine Art department of Drawing and Painting. He invited many of the leading British artists and printmakers of the day to Scotland as well as important external assessors. Whilst teaching he continued to develop his own work, exhibiting in the New Charing Cross Gallery, Glasgow, then with regular exhibitions in Compass Gallery and Gerber Fine Art from 1969 to 2015, with over 10 solo shows.


It was soon recognised the important impact and influence he was to have on the Scottish Art Movement and contemporary Printmaking. In 1967, with help from the Scottish Art Council, Reeves was instrumental in setting up the Scottish Printmaking workshops and studios that exist today. Reeves remains recognised as an important artist and craftsman, a true British Modern Master. His method of distilling and selecting form into uncluttered abstractions in which he reconstructed fragments of moments in time and places result in abstract forms and continually fresh ways of expressing long established ideas.


Reeves was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1971 and an Academician in 1976. He was also an active member of the Society of Scottish Artists and the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts. He served as a president of the Royal Society of Scottish Painters in Watercolour and was a fellow of the Royal Society of Painters, Etchers and Engravers. Since the 1950’s and 1960’s he built up an important reputation with numerous exhibitions including two major retrospectives of his work in 2001 jointly at the Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, and the Hunterian, Glasgow. Solo shows included Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow and The Fine Art Society, London. His work is included in the collections of the British Museum; the Fleming Collection; Glasgow Art Galleries and Museums; Aberdeen Art Gallery; Edinburgh University; Art in Healthcare; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; The Argyll Collection; The Government Art Collection and Glasgow School of Art.


The exhibition will include some of his early etchings, completed whilst at the RCA, early collages and prints.


10 August @ 11:00 am
31 August @ 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Cyril Gerber Fine Art
178 West Regent Street
Glasgow, G2 4RL Glasgow
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