Gallery

Robert Medley

Born in 1905, Robert Medley studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art, the Royal Academy Schools and the Slade. During the 30’s he spent time in Paris, coming into contact with artists in Europe. In 1932, he was involved with founding the experimental Group Theatre for which Auden, Isherwood and Britten wrote work. During the war he was a camouflage officer based in the Middle East. After the war he began to paint again exhibiting regularly. He had a retrospective at the Whitechapel in 1963. From 1951-8 he was head of Theartre Design at the Slade and from 1958-65 he was head of Painting and Sculpture at Camberwell.

"What makes Medley's work so rewarding and unusual is its dexterity. Dexterity in its strict sense refers to an inborn or acquired skill in dealing with, or being at home with, the tangible. Something close to the fingertips. Dexterity also implies panache, a quality of gesture. One can think of the cast of a master fly-fisherman. The stance of a prodigious violinist. The aim from the shoulder of a champion billiard player. Medley's paintings have the concentration and elegance of such performances." John Berger

Robert Medley thought that the screenprints for ‘Samson Agonistes’ was some of the best work that he made. ‘I have always enjoyed reading poets in the contemporary editions. The typography is part of their epoch and the look of the page which we can touch and see is like entering their homes by the front door. It was not until I had completed a number of designs that it dawned on me that the freehand imperfections of paper cutting gave a rough kind of organic vitality that was right for, and perhaps was unconsciously influenced by, the irregularities of C17th popular printing.’

There were two editions of Samson Agonistes, the first group of 16 produced in 1978, measuring 68.5 x 52cm and the second group of 23 in 1981, measuring 51 x 40.5cm.

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Divertimento, 1975
lithograph
44 x 63 cm

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Such engines to assail and hamper thee
1981, screenprint
51cm x 40.5cm

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The wrack't vessel
1981, screenprint
51cm x 40.5cm

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Samson's Destiny
1981, screenprint
51cm x 40.5cm

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Fame if not double-fac't is double mouthed
1981, screenprint
51cm x 40.5cm

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Frontispiece for 'Samson Agonistes'
1978, screenprint
68.5 x 52 cm

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Tablet for the God of Israel
1978, screenprint
68.5 x 52 cm

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folder for the 1978 version of
Samson Agonistes
68.5 x 52 cm

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'Femine assault' The Seductive
1978, screenprint
68.5 x 52 cm