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Donald Hamilton-Fraser

How refreshing it is to see an artist’s work with such confidence and bold colours. It is so immediately recognizable. Much like his art as the man, Fraser stood out in person, tall, elegant, blazer wearing from the rest of his fellow tutors, such as Sir Peter Blake at the Royal College of Art during the 60s. His students included David Hockney, Paul Caulfield and Ronald Kitaj.

Growing up, Fraser wanted to be a poet. As he was later to explain poetry, art, dance all came under the same umbrella of arts. These interests intertwined throughout his life. Apart from the abstract landscapes which will be exhibited at Gallery in the Garden in April and May, he is well known for his pictures of ballet dancers, influenced by Edgar Degas.

After the war, he went to study at St. Martins School of Art, London and there won a scholarship to study in Paris. This proved life changing. Uplifted by this stimulating artistic environment, he flourished. Inspired by De Stael, Fraser moved from early figurative works towards pure abstraction and blocks of colour, thus becoming an artist in his own right, as can be seen in his painting Sangarius II (1963) as well as his own words: ‘ What is it that makes one painting live and seem to have reality, while other paintings with strictly comparable colours and organisation seem decorative exercises?…If I have learnt anything it is to trust one’s intuition, whilly and unquestionably. To have absolute faith in what feels true.’

Fraser was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Art in 1970 and elected Royal Academician in 1985. He died on 2nd September 2009.