Andrew Johnstone | More than a painter
May 11, 2017 1:24 pm
We are delighted to be once again exhibiting Andrew Johnstone’s work, for the first time since his death in 2015.
Andrew Johnstone, 1933-2015
More than a Painter
23 May – 10 June 2017
Andrew Johnstone was so much more than a painter. A scholar, linguist, soldier, diplomat, political officer, craftsman, carpenter, artist, father and husband. The compulsion to create prevailed throughout his life, presenting itself in all variety of mediums. In 1993 he returned to his passion of painting, committing with a prolific intensity which only ebbed and finally stopped when age no longer allowed it.
This exhibition bring together work created between 1995 and 2011, during the period of concentration when painting was his primary focus.
“For me, painting, or at least making, is not an interest or a pastime: it is a compulsion.”
Andrew Johnstone was born in 1933 and educated at Marlborough College where he first found his lifelong passion for painting. In 1949 and 1950, he embarked on a motorbike journey through Europe leading him to studies at Strausbourg University and the Sorbonne.
Johnstone served his National Service in the Scots Guards, taking him to Egypt and Afghanistan before he returned to his studies reading PPE at St John’s College, Oxford. On the hunt for adventure, Johnstone spent his holidays attempting to join the French Foreign Legion and get Russian permission to walk to Moscow – both rejected.
Upon graduating Oxford, it was in the Foreign Office where Johnstone found his first career. Never truly at home in the establishment, his far-flung postings were perfect for him. First to Lebanon where he became fluent in Arabic, it was then to Aden, Oman, Syria, Pakistan, and Cambodia in 1969-71.
At all his foreign postings Andrew Johnstone painted and drew. He had a one-man show in Rawalpindi with the British Council and exhibited in Belfast and the Royal Irish Academy. Dublin was his final posting before taking early retirement from the Foreign Office in 1973 and buying a smallholding in Cornwall.
For the next 20 years Johnstone put all his energy into making and selling handmade creations including carpets, dolls’ houses, clocks, toy and furniture. He crafted wooden dog sculptures which sold internationally and made a successful business producing bespoke frames for artist friends.
In 1993, encouraged by his friendship with Cornish artist Bryan Ingham, Andrew Johnstone finally returned to painting. For the next decade he regularly exhibited his paintings and sculpture in London at the Islington Art Fair and 20/21 British Art Fair, as well as a series of solo shows at Cadogan Contemporary.
Inspiration came from many sources. Painting themes ranged from the ancient world to his modern life, Johnstone’s techniques and expression often stemmed from British artists he admired. He found success wherever he turned his hand and although late in life established a convincing painting career.
Johnstone stopped painting regularly after 2006. In the autumn of 2011 he had his first stroke. In 2013, Andrew and wife Diane celebrated their golden wedding anniversary and after a long life full of talent and adventure Andrew passed away in February 2015.
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