Robert Hurdle RWA HON
Robert Hurdle began his painting career as a sixteen year-old at his local art school in Richmond where he developed his superb draughtsmanship. After leaving he produced street scenes and a series of penetrating pencil studies of the habitués of the Café Conte in Fitzroy Street. The following six years of war service, most of it in France, matured him fast. On demobilization at the age of 28 he visited the Slade, then going through one of its dimmer periods, and the Registrar perceptively advised him to go to the Camberwell School, then entering its great period under William Coldstream, and an extraordinarily gifted team including Victor Pasmore, Claude Rogers and William Townesend. Although Hurdle’s painting ‘Camden Hill’ reveals the influence of Pasmore’s misty visions, he never became a committed Euston Road painter, and thereafter his vision remained his own.
After his arrival in Bristol in 1950, he worked directly from nature, painting the docks and the countryside, and ultimately the plantation where he painted the trees and their fleeting movements which gloriously conclude this exhibition of his early work.
Revered by his fellow members of the Royal West of England Academy, some of his greatest work was yet to come. He abandoned painting directly from nature and began working in the studio from notes made on site, producing a series of paintings of cornfields rippling in the wind, and others of the optical effects of looking toward the light. Later he began producing landscapes worked with spatters of thin paint in beautifully controlled, tonally exquisite, classical compositions. In his nineties he moved on again, in 2011 exhibiting an extraordinary painting of sunflowers which none of the Academicians recognized as his, until they studied it and recognized the same mastery of composition, colour and tone. His development appears to be unending.
– Mike Jenner, Architect and Historian