21 January 2013

in a gallery with Miguel Flores-Vianna

One can be instructed in society, One is inspired only in solitude. Goethe

A glimpse into the photography of Miguel Flores-Vianna takes Us on a journey-to observe -oft times we are asked to come quietly. In my experience- photographers are reluctant to "explain" there work and there's a reason. The beauty of photographs-or paintings is multitudinous-
but along with their Beauty we as observers are asked to see for ourselves.

 MVF in Berlin

True solitude is a din of birdsong, seething leaves, whirling colors, 
or a clamor of tracks in the snow. Edward Hoagland

 MVF in Sweden

The City's voice itself is soft like Solitude's. Shelley

MFV in Marseilles

I haven't delved into these photographs of Miguel's with him-but  I see Beauty-and I see a reverence for Solitude. I believe we can never know ourselves without knowing Solitude-some might call it Isolation-whatever it is-it is required. An invitation to have Miguel share some of his work-or observations, it's no surprise he preferred to introduce little augury to English painter. After looking at the paintings of one Algernon Newton-I immediately see their Beauty and see what Miguel saw in them-and what he sees in his Lens.

Here is Miguel's story of  how he saw Algernon Newton.

I have been spending a lot of time by myself in a small cottage in Sussex. Although I am an hour train ride away from Central London, the cottage feels as far away from anything urban as I could possibly imagine. Once a week I overnight in London, mainly to see friends. Early last December I was on one of those weekly visits having lunch with a chum at a restaurant off Piccadilly. I had agreed to go with her after lunch to Bond Street around the corner,to pick up a gift-although I was of two minds about it: I wanted to get back to Sussex before the commuting crowd invaded all trains bound out of town.

"C'mon, I will drive to Waterloo Station afterwards," she enticed me.

It was only after three in the afternoon, but daylight was almost gone when we left the restaurant. Walking to the shop, I got an inner confirmation that I have become a country bumpkin. I was entranced by the lights of the shops, the street Christmas decorations, all the passerbys wrapped in cashmere and furs. I simply could not believe my eyes and I was charmed! 

Once on Bond Street, because the street is so narrow, the explosion of all those visual stimulants was potentiated by the hundreds. It was as though I had never been to a big city before. I made my poor friend stop at almost every shop window, my excuse to look at the merch, but mainly to see the lights and people inside, this country bumpkin did not want to miss a beat. 
And that is how I came across Algernon Newton.

His name was on a gallery poster announcing an exhibition. 
Have you ever heard of him? I didn't have a clue who he was either, but something in that poster made me say, as we walked by, "Let's go in."

I have never heard of the gallery before either - which, now, makes me feel ashamed, later you will see why.

First things first: the name Algernon. 
I had only come across it in literature - Wilde, Fleming, but had never met or heard of a living person actually called Algernon so I was intrigued. And of course, I had never heard of Algernon Newton (1880-1968). As we climbed the stairs to the gallery's second floor to see the exhibit, I was still sparkly eyed by all the outside stimulation and was not prepared for what I was about to discover. I have always been a fan of the work of the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864 - 1916), the master of those muted, haunted Nordic interiors. Hammershoi was the first person that came to mind when I first set my eyes on the canvases by Newton exposed in the gallery. His vision, like Hammershoi's, is of the everyday life, what we see all the time and do not notice, of the silent moment, of the anonymous. But unlike his Danish counterpart, Newton's world is far larger, they are not rooms, but cityscapes and "vedute" of the country side, but just as devoid of the noise of human life, eerily subsisting as if on air, still air. 
I was captivated.

The quiet in the gallery dimmed my Christmas fizz and I found that looking at his work was centering. I won't say more about it, I am not an expert and to continue would bring out my personal views more than I would like. But I would ask you to see what else you can find about my new friend Algernon as I think he has real talent. 

Later I did some research and I found out that the name Algernon means "one who wears a mustache", it first appears in France at the beginning of the first millennium: a lonely name I presume as, at that time, the French did not like facial hair on themselves . And how appropriate for the creator of my new favourite canvases as they are such a mirror of loneliness.

And, yes the gallery... Daniel Katz Gallery.  
I asked friends about it and everybody rhapsodized about its namesake owner, mainly a sculpture dealer, one of the majors in the world who, surprise, amongst other achievements, made Hammershoi fashionable in London. (text by Miguel FLores-Vianna)

Obvious- Newton had great admiration for Canaletto, and was often referred to as the "Canaletto of the canals." For all his personal disappointments-you must read of those on your own-his brush caresses even the most somber of scenes-not so much a lonely artist-rather an artist observing his world alone-in Solitude.


Miguel observes his world with the same acute eye-no mere passerby-much as Canaletto and Newton did- one where man overlooks what the artist must forever contemplate.


Miguel FLores-Vianna Photography

MVF's New Old World

Daniel Katz Gallery
13 Old Bond Street
London W1S 4SX

The Telegraph on Algernon Newton at the Daniel Katz Gallery here
The paintings of Algernon Newton  here & here

(all works by Miguel Flores-Vianna and images of the Algernon Newton paintings courtesy of Miguel FLores-Vianna)



  1. fascinating ......Algernon? who knew!!

    1. what we learn by stopping to read-listen-observe! Indeed! His first name was Cecil-by the way! pgt

  2. Newton's work is a joy, and I am not surprised to see that there are references to Nash in the Telegraph article. His work also reminds me of Felix Kelly's pictures.

    Thanks for the heads up; I seemed to miss the article this morning.

    1. Columnist, I agree. I am so happy Miguel chose to highlight his work-I hope the links are helpful too-he was quite prolific. The Telegraph piece is most engrossing and seems to be aptly put. pgt

  3. Thank you for this -- for both the photography of Miguel Flores Vianna and for Algernon Newton. Remarkable. And I've just learned that Newton was also the father of the amazingly talented actor Robert Newton. Curtis Roberts

  4. Curtis, Yes, I kept turning him up when searching on the net for his father-as well- Algernon came from a well known family of British colourmen. I am loving searching for his work-I especially am drawn to the great houses he captured. Miguel's work is amazing really-all Solitude, laced with great Joy I think. best, pgt





    Your grateful subscriber,


    1. Penelope, you are always such a great supporter, and This Magic is due to Miguel's story-I am so lucky to have his support too. With friends like you two I can't miss. thank you, Gaye

  6. My soul hurts when I internalize these paintings. They are leading me places I'm usually to afraid to visit. MFV has been a favorite for many years. Thanks for this great post.

    1. Mary, I understand, it is an excellent tie in to the artist's personality in the Telegraph and while there is pain in his story-I think his art speaks much of the time especially in Great Britain. I love Miguel's work and am so lucky to have him here to bring us these special paintings, pgt

  7. I have found this post fascinating. That Miguel Flores Vianna was miraculously led to the gallery where Algernon Newton's work hung makes us ponder the law of attraction, holy spirit or sheer coincidence. For an artist to connect with another is the ultimate. I can attest to this as a painter. The name Algernon I am familiar with. The late Algernon Speer, a Sandford Florida attorney who had a keen eye for art and amassed a collection of twenty five Highwaymen paintings in the 1960's, purchased directly from the artists still wet along the roadside as he travelled to Fort Piece for trials.
    His collection is superb and recently was exhibited at Leepa Rattner in Tarpon Springs. Should you ever be in the Tampa/St Petersburg area of Florida, I will be delighted to take you to my friend's hone where the collection hangs.R.S.V.P

    Helen xx

    1. Helen, that sounds amazing-Art is personal and for me there is a story behind most of the paintings-photographs-etchings etc I've purchased or been given. It layers actual Art doesn't it? pgt

  8. Hello again

    One more coincidence one of the Highwaymen whom Algernoon Speer favoured was named Harold Newton


  9. Such a great post. As an artist, I wholeheartedly concur, I absolutely dread talking about myself in relation to my art. Galleries want an Artist Statement, and there's no getting around it, but all artist statements sound the same to me, "I am inspired by the beauty of nature...blah, blah, blah," or "I love color...blah, blah, blah." Lol! I don't know, I just think, for Pete's sake, who cares what I think. Let the work speak for itself. Painting is mode of communication, if I have to translate, maybe I haven't done my job.

    1. It is true-I do understand, I am not artist-So I have a tendency to ask-what does it mean? it's an artist's interpretation but it's another aspect of the work for the viewer to take from it what he or she can-or wants too. I find that in itself is beautiful. We can not stress enough just taking the time to Look and Observe with intent. pgt



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