Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Simon puts his house on anonymous Berlin artist

THE brother of Antiques Roadshow expert Jonty Hearnden is on a mission to bring a previously

THE brother of Antiques Roadshow expert Jonty Hearnden is on a mission to bring a previously neglected artist to public notice — and he’s staked his house on doing so.

Simon Hearnden, 56, describes himself on his website as a “graphic designer, art collector [and] inveterate traveller”.

It was a combination of the last two enthusiasms that were to set him on his present course.

Ten years ago he found himself in Berlin, where he co-owns apartments with Wargrave resident Andrew Imlay, searching for suitable art to decorate the walls.

Browsing in an antique dealer’s shop, he made a startling discovery — piles of monotype originals and prints by an artist he had never heard of, one Walter Lindner.



Seized by enthusiasm for their quality, he decided to buy up the entire collection to prevent it being sold off piece by piece.

Now he is bringing a selection of the artworks to Henley for a 10-day exhibition at the Old Fire Station Gallery in Market Place, behind the town hall.

The show, entitled Berlin Walls, opens today (Friday) and continues until the end of the Henley Royal Regatta on Sunday, July 5.

Simon says his aim is to draw in regatta visitors, adding: “There will be a lot of people milling around town in the mornings.

“This is my own venture that I’m putting a lot into. No one’s selling Berlin art over here — and yet Berlin has just overtaken London for the number of artists living there.”

Asked what inspired him about Lindner’s work in particular, he said: “It’s not modern art — it’s accessible, contemporary art. I think it’s quite an exciting event. We sold 40 to 60 prints in a weekend [at a previous event].”

Simon also explained what had led him to sell his house in Roke, near Wallingford, to fund the venture.

He said: “I discovered him [Lindner] when he was dying of cancer and I decided to take on his studio and get him better known.

“I bought the whole body of his work. I had to sell my house to do it.”

Lindner died in 2007, his work still virtually unknown to the art world at large. He had worked tirelessly to perfect the monotype technique over 40 years — but according to Simon these works were never publicised as Lindner shunned the advances of agents during his lifetime.

Since making his initial purchase from the Berlin antique dealer, Simon has befriended the artist’s widow — herself an accomplished illustrator — and he now has access to the remainder of Lindner’s work, supported by her.

Recent months have seen Simon selling works by Lindner to interior designers from outlets in Chelsea — for prices he says suggest the artist is capable of creating much greater interest.

Further Berlin Walls events are planned, and Simon says the selection of works being offered in Henley are costed well below the prices achieved in London, meaning they represent something of an investment opportunity.

He added: “Lindner’s great technique, sense of colour and composition show through in these relatively inexpensive works that look great in any location.”

Ironically, Simon’s one worry about the show is that the location of the Old Fire Station Gallery might elude some visitors. But he hopes word of mouth will spread.

Berlin Walls is open daily from 10am to 6pm from Friday, June 26, to Sunday, July 5, at the Old Fire Station Gallery, 66 Market Place, Henley. For full details, visit http://berlinwalls.co.uk



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