Although Anthony John Gray is without formal training, like many
artists he began his career by studying and copying the old masters.
An early exhibition in 1975 revealed his ability to imbue the realism
of Courbet, for example, with his own sense of the surreal – an
indicator of the path he had chosen as a painter. His subsequent
early works are reminiscent of the heyday of British Surrealism, with
visual qualities that set them apart from their French counterparts.
It is to simplistic however, to call Gray a surrealist. Although his
work is clearly informed by, for example Roland Penrose, and even
the continental Surrealists such as Magritte and Delvaux, it is less
sinister, motivated as theirs was by European politics of the 1930s.
Like the previous generation of Surrealists, Gray’s paintings are
based on a methodology of collage and montage, and still have the
ability to disturb and pacify at one and the same time, through
strange juxtapositions. There, the similarities end.
There are subtle di;erences that set Gray’s work apart from his
antecedent, including the empowered women who populate his
world, a forceful reminder of how male artists of his generation have
transcended the notion of woman merely as muse. In Britain during
the 1930s there were seemingly endless battles between the
Surrealists and the abstractionists about the superiority of their
respective art forms, that saw artists such as Henry Moore and Paul
Nash acting as arbiters. Gray is not an arbiter, but an artist whose
work is a fusion of Surrealism and geometrical abstraction, as
enigmatic as his surrealism is, his images are imbued with a sense
of order and rationale