Keith Frederick Grant (born 1930) One of the greatest living British landscape painters, Keith Grant has travelled extensively, and has confronted the elements in order to produce extraordinary, resonant images of nature, especially in the north. Recently, he has preferred to recollect his experiences in the tranquility of his studio in Norway, and work imaginatively to produce an exciting series of what he calls ‘autobiographical’ paintings.
Keith Grant was born in Liverpool on 10 August 1930. Educated at Bootle Grammar School, he left at the age of thirteen to work in the local Co-op. He received his first opportunity to practise as a painter while doing National Service in the RAF. In turn, classes at the Working Men’s College, Camden, enabled him to enrol at Willesden Art School (1952-55).
Going on to the Royal College of Art (RCA) (1955-58), he studied under Colin Hayes, John Minton, Kenneth Rowntree and Carel Weight, and gained a silver medal for mural painting.
Having encountered the work of Turner and Palmer early in his development, Grant fell under the influence of such Neo-Romantic painters as Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland while at the RCA. Yet, in his devotion to landscape, he has explored many places not previously painted by British artists.
Supported by Colin Hayes, Grant developed a particular enthusiasm for northern terrains, visiting Scotland, Iceland (on at least four occasions) and – most significantly – Norway. He first visited Norway in 1957 and, feeling an immediate affinity with the land and its people, began to incorporate motifs inspired by the country into his work. Travel scholarships took him back to Norway in 1961 and 1976, and he returned there again and again. During part of this period, he was Head of Painting at Maidstone College of Art (1969-71).
From the early 1980s, Grant seized opportunities to explore contrasting climes. In 1982, he accepted an invitation to French Guiana to paint the launch of the Ariane rocket, and exhibited the resulting works in the following year at the Paris International Air Show. This led to visits to Sarawak (1984), Cameroon (1986) and the Negev Desert in Israel (1988), and later to Venezuela (1992). Still devoted to the cold north, he worked in Arctic Greenland during 1989.
At the end of the decade, Grant began to exhibit his paintings in a series of significant solo shows. Venues included London dealers: Cadogan Contemporary (from 1989), the Crane Kalman Gallery (1989), the Gillian Jason Gallery (1990) and Cassian de Vere-Cole (1994). He also showed at Roehampton Institute (1992), where he was Head of Art, and The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (1994), which entitled its retrospective ‘Fire and Ice’, so encapsulating his landscape art.
Not exclusively a landscapist, Grant has produced illustrations, abstract sculpture, mosaic designs and portraits in oils, including a commission to paint HRH Prince Andrew (1994).
Grant settled in Norway in 1996, and now lives in the village of Gvarv, in Telemark, with his Norwegian wife and their daughter. Nevertheless, he has exhibited internationally, and continues to travel widely. For instance, in 2001, he accepted an invitation from the British Antarctic Survey to co-inaugurate its Artists and Writers’ Programme (with fellow painter Philip Hughes). This resulted in an appearance on BBC television news in an item on Antarctica.
Other recent projects include stained glass and mosaic decorations for Charing Cross Hospital (2000), and a portrait of Sir Geoffrey Hill, Oxford Professor of Poetry, in 2015.
Representing Keith since 2009, the Chris Beetles Gallery held the highly successful solo shows, ‘Elements of the Earth’, in April 2010, and 'Metamorphosis', in April 2016, and is busy preparing a major monograph on the artist for publication in the near future.
His work is represented in the Government Art Collection and numerous public collections, notably the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge).