Halima Nalecz brought a mid-European glamour to a rather dowdy post-war London art market. In establishing the New Vision gallery in Marble Arch in 1956, and her own Drian Gallery in 1957, she created a vehicle for the active promotion of new British artists, as well as for her own work.
Halima Nalecz was born near Vilnius in 1914, and spent much of her youth as a refugee, travelling around Europe and the Near East, before arriving in Britain in 1947, and marrying Zygmunt Nalecz in 1952. Her work is fresh, idiosyncratic and decidedly un-English, drawing on imagery from nature – fat, heavy flower heads and startling upright foliage, strange animals, vivid starlit skies – all transmuted through a semi-abstracted vision. The National Portrait Gallery holds some lovely images by the photographer Bob Collins of Nalecz in her studio, surrounded by examples of her mature work.
Famously unselfish, she was a generous supporter of new talent, giving artists as diverse as John Bellany, William Crozier and Leon Zack their first major London shows. Her commitment to buy a new work from another artist for every picture of her own which she sold, enabled her to present a large collection of contemporary art to the Polish state in 1983.
Read more about her in the Guardian obituary by Adam Zulawski.
See her work for sale with Lloyd Ellis