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John Piper remains one of lastcentury's most profoundinterpreters of our landscape and of the sprawling cities that in post-war, post-industrial Britain we now call home. He is deservedly wellknown for the Shell County Guides,for his paintings of churches and also for the numerous stained glass that he designed, but he also producedstage designs, tapestry rugs and pottery dishes. With such a wealth ofmaterial to his name, it is unsurprisingthat the upcoming exhibition, John Piper in Kent & Sussex,is to be spread across three venues - ScotneyCastle, Kent; Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery; and MascallsGallery, Maidstone.His nuanced feel for the land and his acute perception of architecturaldetails, whether of stately homes, great cathedral churches or of smallbarns and cottages, establish his as a truly English voice. Piper was also a committed Christian whose work showed something of theredemptive power of God in our world,even during the Blitz when he was anofficial war artist.He was well regarded among themodern, or so-called "advanced" artiststo use the language of the 1940s, buteven his early work showed a strongfeeling for tradition. He workedalongside Ben Nicholson in the BritishRomantic Movement that emerged asAbstract painting, or Constructivism,Journey intothe abstractJohn Piper (1903-92) was one of the best known of the younger schoolof English painters to emerge in the 1930s, capturing the spirit ofEngland in various mediums over his long career. Now, as his manyworks go on display in Kent, Dr Nicholas CranfieldFSAoffers acompelling insight into the upcoming exhibitionJOHN PIPER36NADFAS REVIEW / SPRING a marked classical appearancewith a romantic soul.Introductions from Ben Nicholson led him to meet Alexander Calder andJean Helion (both of whom becamelifelong friends) in Paris in June 1934,and at his return he espoused a newabstraction that later gained much fromseeing an exhibition of Picasso'scollages during his next visit to France(March 1935). The following year hiswork was included in the importantAbstract & Concrete show at the LefevreGallery alongside the likes of Mondrianand Giacometti. In 1945 he wrote: "For five years Ipainted nothing but abstract pictures,which I found a good discipline:especially then, 10 years ago, whenthere were so many 'directions' and'isms' that it was difficult for a student to know which way to turn," but he hadactually begun painting landscapesmuch earlier; as this show amplydemonstrates, one was unthinkablewithout the other. However, after 1939 his work became moretopographical and descriptive,eschewing naturalistic painting. He produced stage designs, stained glass, tapestries, ceramics,photographs, posters and collages aswell as both landscape and earlyabstract paintings, and this exhibitionrichly exploits many of these resources. In all of this, Piper remainedquintessentially English and visitors to John Piper in Kent & Sussexwill Right:Studyfor ChichesterCathedraltapestry1965, on loan fromPallant House REVIEW / SPRING 201137JOHN PIPER