‘The farm through trees’
Oil on canvas
80cm x 62cm
32″ x 24½”

Click image to enlarge

Described by Michel Remy in his book ‘Surrealism in Britain’ as one of the “harbingers of surrealism” in Great Britain, John Melville was, along with his art critic brother Robert and the artist Conroy Maddox, a key member of the Birmingham Surrealists from the 1930s to the 1950s. He was a Painter of figures, portraits, still-life and landscapes in oil and watercolor. Self-taught, he was attracted to Surrealism in 1930 and as a member of the Birmingham Group, joined the Surrealist Group in 1938. He was a contributor to the London Bulletin in 1939, and to Arson in 1942.

John exhibited his work first in London at the Wertheim Gallery in 1932, continued to exhibit in other ‘places’ in London and throughout the UK. His work is represented in a number of important private and public collections and his paintings often showed transformed figures and dream-like, unexpected conjunction of images. During the 1940s he painted portraits and still-life but returned to Surrealism in later works.

Melville’s relative isolation led to his work being neglected somewhat, but in recent years his reputation has grown and his singular style has led to his inclusion in a number of public exhibitions – notably “Surrealism: Two Private Eyes” at the Guggenheim, New York in 1999 and “Surrealism in Birmingham” in 2001.