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Review of John Reilly’s work by Sir Richard Glyn bt.

In the early 1990’s, I was having tea with George Trevelyan, when he suddenly started, in that way of his, and said, “Come upstairs and see what you make of this!” It was one of John Reilly’s remarkable paintings, a golden spiral of Woman and Serpent, which is how I came to meet John and Jill.

English people are often reserved on meeting, so to meet with John, whose spiritual paintings are so “out there”, and which resonate profoundly and sometimes shockingly with our heads and hearts, was quite like encountering a new Knight on the lists. Except he was so gentle and so admirably artistic one was drawn closer.

My first purchase, The Vision could have been painted of and for the then motions of my spirit. Even the images were remarkably familiar. So began an arm’s length and affectionate relationship, which has resulted in the purchase of a number of paintings, including the wonderful Vision of Unity (Jacob’s ladder), which is my abiding favourite.

It was my good fortune to take a number of remarkable people to visit John and Jill for a picnic and to their home in Ventnor, Isle of Wight, to discuss the essential elements that are a feature of his work.

I’m no expert, though I have been involved on the fringes of the art world all my adult life. I can say with some certainty that few painters express the links between matter and spirit, dark and light the way John was able. Few living painters have the vision he had. In my view his work is amongst the most important of our times, because in its own way – culture and idiom – John’s work addresses the fundamentals of soul and spirit, and our relationship with what matters most, in the most skilful way.

A thesis on John’s work by Emma Spencer compares it favourably to that of Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian Expressionist Painter. For me, this is pure art, an extraordinary blend of the divine, the muse, human creativity, integrity and artistic skill.

At Gaunts House, in Dorset, we have been privileged to hang a large selection of John’s paintings for the public to visit, on semi-permanent loan.