“He was widely viewed as the first artist to truly connect with the Welsh people – a tribute to the authenticity of his artistic vision – but his reputation extended far beyond his own country,” says Mary Yapp, director of The Albany Gallery in Cardiff, who was Williams’ agent in Wales for more than three decades.
Opening on his birthday, May 9, and continuing until June 2, the gallery will hold a retrospective of the artist’s work, including many pieces for sale.
Williams is best known for his dramatic oil paintings of north Wales. He served with the Royal Welch Fusiliers until 1941 when he was discharged for his epilepsy and, on the advice of a doctor, sought a new career in art. He attended the Slade School from 1941-44 and spent many years teaching art at Highgate School in London. On returning to Wales in 1973, he settled in Anglesey.
Yapp recalls the biennial sell-out shows the gallery used to host for him, calling them huge events. “He had a unique and bold artistic vision. His paintings resonated with a great many people. It became a matter of great pride in Wales to own a Kyffin original,” she says.
It is the latest in a number of special exhibitions celebrating the 100 years since the artist’s birth. A selection of 400 paintings is on show in his hometown of Llangefni, Anglesey, for example. Behind the Frame, a show at the National Library of Wales, continues in Aberystwyth and Martin Tinney Gallery’s commercial exhibition of selected works opened last week (also in Cardiff, see ATG No 2337).
The works in the Albany Gallery show cover most of Williams’ career and the majority are for sale with prices ranging from £2500 for works on paper to £65,000 for oil paintings.
“Kyffin was a lovely man and a great friend,” Yapp adds. “He was a wonderful raconteur, and a charismatic, opinionated and inspiring spokesperson for the arts.”