b. 1928, Venice
Willie Landels is an artist, half Italian half Scottish, who has contributed hugely to the visual culture of this country over the past sixty years. As a star graduate of the Brera school of art in Milan, he was commissioned to make a huge mobile for the Festival of Britain in 1951. During the Mad Men era of the 1960s he was Art Director of the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson. In 1963 he designed the iconic 'Throw Away' armchair, which is still in production with Zanotta. During the 1970s he re-created the 'glossy magazine' as the inspirational first editor of Harpers & Queen.
Throughout all these decades, though, he has maintained his practise as an abstract painter, having numerous one-person exhibitions in the UK and in his native Italy. His new body of work - exhibited, here, for the first time - extends his abstract vision into new territory. Working in acrylic and ink on board, he has created a series of beautiful pared-down images. They combine the lucid elegance of geometry with an infectious playfulness. The eye is led, lulled, tricked, surprised - and delighted - as it travels over the surface of each picture.
Charles Darwent, the art-critic of the Independent on Sunday, has written of Landels' new work: 'At first glance, his latest series looks as though it might have come from the Bauhaus or Russian Suprematism; the young El Lissitzky springs to mind. But these new pictures are also characterful, even touching. Their clean forms and simple interplay of colour - a black line crossing a green, three-sided figure; a red square on an angled support - have personalities, narratives; an unplaceable dry wit. They are the end product of endless experimentation, repeated gridding-up. And yet they have an ease and simplicity that makes them fresh, and entirely new.'