Douglas Portway (1922-1993)

Douglas Portway (1922-1993). Painter, draughtsman and designer, born in Johannesburg, South Africa, who had a poor, unsettled childhood. Became a window-dresser; drew in his spare time and attended art schools including Witwatersrand Technical Art School, 1943–4, but was dissatisfied with the instruction; for several years taught at Witwatersrand and at University of Johannesburg; and in 1945 had his first solo show at Constantia Gallery, Johannesburg. In 1948 Portway married art student Rosalind Hertslet (they were later divorced), and they designed murals, tapestry and stained glass windows and exhibited together. In 1952 Portway gained a travel grant, spending several months in America. Five years later Portway left South Africa for good, travelled extensively in Europe, from 1959–66 living in Ibiza, in 1967 settling in St Ives, Cornwall and being associated with the St Ives School of artists. he later moved to Bristol in the early 1980s. Had regular annual periods working in France, at Razac d’Eymet, Dordogne, where he died. Portway took part in numerous group shows, including international art fairs in Basel, New York and Chicago, winning the European Painting Prize Bronze Medal, 1969, Gold Medal, 1971; he gained the Cornelissen Prize in 1992. The signing of a contract with Drian Gallery in the late 1950s cemented a long association, and Portway also held some of his many solo shows with Marjorie Parr and Gilbert–Parr Galleries. He was a prolific loner whose figurative and abstract works showed technical mastery, having an erotic element and being influenced by Klee, Zen and Jung. He said that his painting “suggests a meaning at many levels”. Tate Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum and many foreign collections hold examples. Memorial retrospectives at Gallery Gilbert, Dorchester, 1997–8.

Text source: 'Artists in Britain Since 1945' by David Buckman (Art Dictionaries Ltd, part of Sansom & Company)
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