Abstract black and white landscape painting by British artist John Virtue

John Virtue Landscape No.174 (1990 – 1992) acrylic emulsion charcoal gouache pencil black ink shellac on board. 181 x 298cm Courtesy of Albion Barn

This September, Fortnum & Mason in collaboration with art collector Frank Cohen will present an in-store exhibition of British landscape artist John Virtue. LUX Digital Editor Millie Walton explains why she’s already looking forward to it

John Virtue is no ordinary landscape painter. And I say that for all of those who are reading this and thinking landscape painter means traditional means boring. I am normally one of those people.

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Abstract black and white painting by british artist John Virtue

John Virtue Untitled No.1 (2012-17) acrylic on canvas 183 x 183cm Courtesy of Albion Barn

For starters, Virtue’s paintings are monochromatic (i.e. no sunshine, flowers, cows, quaint farm buildings or windmills). They’re moody, turbulent, textured. His depictions of London are heavy, drizzling scenes of a kind of shadow city, bereft of all the usual iconic shapes. I’d go as far to say, it’s more of a mood than a landscape, and it’s one that any viewer – with or without knowledge of art history, or in fact, of London – can feel. A visual poetry.

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Trained at Slade School of Fine Art, Virtue now resides in North Norfolk where he gleans inspiration from the harsh, flat, stretching expanses, whipped by wind and rain. Mixing swathes of white acrylic paint with black ink and shellac, his paintings are charged with the energy of the weather, dripping with the un-predictability and almost frightening power.

Ink painting of wood landscape by British artist John Virtue

John Virtue Landscape No.43 (1986-87) black ink shellac gouache on paper laid on board 147 x 220 cm Courtesy of Albion Barn

The juxtaposition of these huge, dark canvases set amongst Fortnum & Mason’s gleaming colours and grandeur will be an intriguing one.

Fortnum’s X Frank 2018 is curated by Robert Upstone and runs from 10th September to 20th October at Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly. For more information on the exhibition visit: fortnumandmason.com/events/fortnums-x-frank-2018