Literature: The Lightbox, Woking, Out of the Shadows, 2020, cat 74
Considering Finney’s oeuvre as a whole it becomes increasingly clear that whilst he painted his surroundings with apparent ease and great facility, his pictures were a product more of personal struggle than an expression of a joie de vivre:work was, he said, “a means of survival, in the battle for living”. For Finney, who had a reclusive personality, drawing and painting served both as a means to approach the world but also as a place where he could find refuge from it. His subject matter moved unconsciously between two domains ‚Äì that of daylight hours, and that of the night. The former resulted in compositions capturing subtle changes in light and colour, but there is almost always a sense of light fading, dissipating into the dark. Nighttime appears to be the habitat where Finney, his compositions emerging out of the shadows, was more naturally at home.
In spite of a retrospective at the University of Oxford’s Institute of Education in 1964, Finney’s star, at the time barely resonant enough to leave more than a faint trace, has since all but passed into oblivion. Certainly, unlike so many of his better known contemporaries, he is rarely referenced in any art historical accounts of the period. Even with a nod in the direction of Finney’s own self-effacing sense of modesty (his autobiography asserts “I am only one of millions of humans who have passed into oblivion . . . and others might be far more worthy of commemoration”) it is surely time to bring his work back to public attention ‚Äì out of the shadows and into the daylight.
Finney will be the subject of retrospective to be held at The Lighbox Woking from January – March 2021