Fortnum's X Frank 2018, Ewan Venters, John Virtue, Frank Cohen, Courtesy Fortnum & Mason, Credit Phillip Sinden.jpg
Fortnum & Mason CEO Ewan Venters, painter John Virtue, and collector Frank Cohen (l-r) have collaborated on the latest edition of ‘Fortnum’s X Frank’.

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The London exhibition, Fortnum’s X Frank is staged annually in the Piccadilly department store. This year the show, which runs from September 10-October 20, features the work of John Virtue, a contemporary landscape painter. The black and white canvases, painted with acrylic and shellac paint, offer a contrast to the colourful gilt interior of the 311-year-old building.

Virtue was a student of Auerbach in the late 1960s but stopped painting for many years before starting up again in his early 30s. He has now painted for more than four decades, including a year as associate artist at the National Gallery in 2005.

However, these works have historically been “underappreciated” Cohen says.

“I have always admired the energy and power of these expansive landscapes and surging seascapes,” he adds. “In a time when the whole world has gone contemporary-mad, I was keen to steady the boat and bring these works to the foreground.”

A prolific collector of British and international contemporary art, Cohen has built up his extensive collection since the 1970s and was a patron of the Young British Artists (YBAS) in the 1990S.

Cohen worked with Albion Barn to put together the collection from the artist and additional collectors. 

Ewan Venters, CEO of Fortnum & Mason praised Cohen’s “collector’s eye” and Upstone’s curatorial skills in putting the show together.