Monday, April 13, 2015

Ralph Chubb "The Visionary"

I am very grateful to long-time friend of Front Free Endpaper, Paul, for sending a copy of an article he found about Ralph Chubb. First though, he informs me that there is a connection between Leon Underwood, who featured on this blog a few days ago and is currently the subject of a major exhibition at The Pallant Gallery in Chichester. Anthony Valentine in his booklet Ralph Chubb - The UnKnown, "Ralph knew Leon Underwood during his time at the Slade [1919-1922] Ralph was Leon Underwood's best friend there. Then 'and in later years' Leon extended every kind of help and encouragement to Ralph.
It was due to Leon that Ralph's work was shown in exhibition." 

Chubb also seems to have been around when Underwood was running his own art school, The Brook Green School of Art. Underwood published a magazine that included much of the work of his students and friends called The Island, and although Chubb appears in this magazine, presumably with Underwood's full support, there is evidence that Chubb didn't fit in as well with the rest of the group of artists there. An audio interview given by Eileen Agar in 1990 suggests that Chubb "horrified" the others and that his sexuality and his subject matter were the main cause of that. Be that as it may Chubb was always something of an outsider and he would have been uneasy in any 'group' setting, possibly groups of artists in particular.

The article Paul kindly sent is from The Studio in 1926 and is illustrated with a black and white version of "The Well", a painting that has been on the blog before and also with this painting above, "The Visionary", which is, of course, a self-portrait. The text too might be something of a self-portrait: it's possible that this was either written by Chubb himself or taken more or less in full from text he submitted himself (Dots do not indicate missing text but fluerons in the text) : 

"Mr. Ralph Chubb's work has that other element, and as such work might well be cultivated as a national asset, the point of view of the man who produced it deserves study . . . In the first place, Mr. Chubb was both with a passion of romantic imagination, and drew the fantastic subjects loved of old masters from his early childhood. To watch children drawing is to know that in this he was not unique, save in the fact that his imagination did not die, as the average child's imagination dies, at the age of fifteen or thereabouts. It appears that he loved the Pre-Raphaelites and that he took the Classical Tripos at Cambridge. He is a man educated in matters other than paint. Painting is, if anything is, a cultural subject, yet many artists appear indifferent to culture. In Mr. Chubb's work there is nothing of that look of underfed imagination which seems to be the root of dullness . . . It is in the artist's own explanation that the critic finds light . . . "Merely to love painting," says Mr. Chubb, "does not seem to me to be enough. It is like a carpenter who loves his bench and his tools, but is scornful of the object he is making. I therefore believe in imaginative pictures, despite present fashion. True sentiment I regard as essential, paramount - the thing that matters most in a work of art. And loving care in carrying out the conception I regard as the second most important thing. Any deviation from nature must some from imaginative interpretation of her, not from wilful disregard of her.""

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