Ron Russell, Artist (b.1923 d.1995) ____ 'home page'

      Ron Russell <previous 

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oil painting on canvas, 1965,
61 x 76cm

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oil painting on canvas, 1965,
13.5 x 18cm

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oil painting on canvas, 1964,
49.5 x 75cm

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oil painting on canvas, 1962,
25.5 x 17.5cm

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oil painting on canvas, 1965,
61 x 91cm

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oil painting on canvas,
50 x 60.5cm

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Ron Russell was born in 1923 and grew up in a working class family in Peckham, south London. He left school at 14 to work for a silk manufacturer. In 1941, at 18, he joined the Fleet Air Arm, serving in the Atlantic convoys and in the Pacific in the operation leading up to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. The morality of this action perturbed him the rest of his life.

Following the end of the war, he emigrated to Sydney, Australia, where he met and married Ariadne (‘Arda’), the daughter of refugees from revolutionary Russia. It was Arda who encouraged him to take art classes early in their marriage. He studied privately for a while with the Italian surrealist, Bissieta, who encouraged him to experiment with and develop his unique colour sense. His early works are colourful abstracted figurative works which rapidly become fully abstract.

Ron was active in the New South Wales branch of the Contemporary Art Society of Australia, sitting on the committee and organising exhibitions, competitions and other events. However, although there was an active and diverse community of artists in Sydney in the 1950s, there were comparatively few abstract painters and even few colourists. So artistically he was relatively isolated.

In 1959, Ron and Arda made the journey by land and sea to London with their young family. As well as various day jobs – including setting up and running his own business – Ron painted prolifically and successfully, exhibiting widely in Britain and throughput Europe. One of the first people in London he met was Denis Bowen, which led to a lifelong friendship, a long-standing, if intermittent, professional and artistic association and contact with a wide and varied circle of avant-garde artists from all over the world.

His colour-field paintings became more subtle and minimalist throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Frequently using the palms of his hands to work paint into canvas, Russell built up luminous layers of colours, whose surface appear to shift, sway, approach and recede.

He described himself, rightly, as self-taught, but was influenced greatly by Mark Rothko, William Turner and Antonio Caldera, who he met in Milan. He admired many figurative painters, but had little time for those who held abstract painting to be lesser or infantile form. He stopped painting for a while during the 1980s, claiming that he had ‘painted himself off the canvas’. However, a burst of artistic energy during the 1990s, including following a major stroke in 1994, led to a new and experimental output while sharing a studio with Denis Bowen.

Following his death in November 1995, a large retrospective exhibition of paintings created over the course of more than 40 years, borrowed from some of his many collectors, was held at the Diorama Arts Centre Gallery in London.

Marlowe Russell, London May 2013

Contact via e-mail

Associated weblinks
Cosmopolis Group, Artists of the Schoop of London, exhibitions in England and Italy
Denis Bowen
Nino Spallone
Pindaros Michaeledes
(for images use Internet Explorer)

Stephen Court

Società Dante Alighieri Awards
International Culture in the Arts

ceremony held at Pescara in Italy on 4th December 2010, the Visual Arts Award for 2010 awarded to
Cosmopolis Group for contributions for international culture.   Especially for the Cosmopolis exhibitions at Roccaraso and Popoli, Abruzzo, Italy in 2009.

for photography to Krystina Stimakovitz
Especially to the late Dr.Roberto Franco, art historian, Simona Franco and associates, for orgaising the exhibition of artworks by Cosmopolis Group at Roccaraso, Italy in 2009.

   Marlowe Russell © 2013 <previous