Merlyn Evans (1910–1973)

Merlyn Evans was born in 1910 in Cardiff; he died in London in 1973; From 1927 to 1931 he studied at the Glasgow School of Art, then from 1932 to 1934 at the Royal College of Art in London; this included study visits to Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen and Italy.

It has to be emphasised that Merlyn Evans was a painter and that his graphic work was an extension of his painting. He moved with ease and technical mastery between the two disciplins. Since 1935 he was a member of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and had a particular interest in aesthetics, optical research and gestalt psychology, interest which appear to find some expression in his work. At the Glasgow School of Art, Evans had made preliminary research into Cubist concepts. The Scottish artist Charles Murray then introduced him to engraving on zinc & other intaglio processes. He improved his skills in the latter fastidiously during this period. Then in 1936 he took part in the International Surrealist Exhibition in London.

In 1938 he moved to South Africa where he taught at the Durban School of Art as a visiting lecturer. From 1942 to 1945 he served as an engineer with the South African Forces in North Africa and the Middle East. Both experiences strongly influenced his artistic style intrducing an ethnic element. Nevertheless, his paintings, which often link mechanical & natural forms, are thought to be essentially Celtic & romantic in spirit. In the late 1940s he began to paint anti-war subjects, depicting violent allegories of World War II, e.g. 'The Conflict'. Some of these abstract & brightly coloured works were based on specific incidents such as 'The Chess Players', inspired by the 1939 non-aggression pact between Germany and Russia. After the war he returned to London. His first large post-war exhibition was held at the Leicester Galleries in February 1949. With his ex-army grant he attended a refresher course at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. With better equipment now available he delved into the study of copperplate aquatint and mezzotint. His painting became looser and more monumental.

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