For ten years, from 1948 to 1958, Alan Reynolds was supremely successful as a Neo-Romantic landscape painter. He then turned to abstraction and, in 1967, abandoned painting in favour of constructions. For the last 30 years, he has made only white reliefs, tonal drawings and woodcuts. Alan Reynolds was in Newmarket, Suffolk, on 27 April 1926, the son of a stableman in racing stables. Leaving school at the age of fourteen, he worked in various jobs while teaching himself to paint. Then, following the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the army.
He served with both the Suffolk Regiment and the Highland Light Infantry, in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. His time in the army provided a grounding for his subsequent career, for he took teachers’ training courses to become an education sergeant, and spent his leave absorbing the paintings and theories of Paul Klee and the artists of Der Blaue Reiter.
Following demobilisation, Reynolds studied at Woolwich Polytechnic School of Art (1948-52) and at the Royal College of Art (1952-53), where he received a medal for painting. He began exhibiting with the London Group in 1950, while still a student, and two years later held the first of many solo shows at the Redfern Gallery. He has also exhibited abroad in New York, Paris, Pittsburgh, Zurich and at various venues in Germany. He taught drawing at the Central School of Art (1954-61) and then painting at St Martin’s School of Art (from 1961). Becoming Senior Lecturer in Painting in 1985, he retired a decade later.
Initially, Reynolds worked as a landscape painter in oil and watercolour in a Neo-Romantic manner, evolving recognisable, often small scale, natural forms into expressive patterns. Then, during the late 1950s, he turned unequivocally towards abstraction, by emphasising the geometric, rather than organic, qualities of networks of horizontal and vertical lines. A decade later, he began to produce painted wooden reliefs, and these were surveyed, alongside his drawings, in 1991, at a retrospective at the Annely Juda Gallery. Latterly, he lived and worked in Kent.
His work is represented in many public collections, including the Tate and the V&A.
Further reading Michael Harrison, Alan Reynolds. The Making of a Concretist Artist, Farnham: Lund Humphries, 2011