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Sargy Mann (1937-2015)
Frances at the top of the stairs, 2008
Signed, lower right
Oil on canvas
38 x 24 inches

Provenance: Cadogan Contemporary
Private Collection

Exhibited: Sargy Mann, New Paintings
Cadogan Contemporary, 2010

                  Sargy Mann, Late Paintings
Royal Drawing School, 2019
                  Curated by Chantal Joffe

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This extraordinary work was painted after 2005 when Sargy lost the very last vestiges of his sight. Sargy had arrived at the realisation that in spite of a very vivid inner eye, he was unable to gather sufficient substance from the images contained by memory or dreams to paint; he had to find a new way of harnessing the physical world and transposing it into two-dimensional images. The answer naturally was to find his way through touch but the path to achieving this was challenging. The first works that he produced were portraits of his wife Frances. 


‘I asked her to sit in the armchair in my studio and I knelt on the ground so close that I could touch most of her. As I tried to understand her position and the chair in my totally blind state, by touch alone, I found that my brain, my visual cortex, was busy turning this three dimensional understanding into the view that I would have seen, and the two-dimensional pattern that this would give. My brain was drawing very much as it would have done from visual input even though now all it had was tactile input.’

Peter and Sargy Mann, Sargy Mann: Probably the best Blind Painter in Peckham, 2020

The small dots that can be seen on this work relate to Sargy's method of applying pieces of Blu Tack directly to the canvas. This would allow him to ‘build up a a drawing’, the little blobs serving as coordinates corresponding to parts of the body.











Sargy Mann working on 'In the Black Coat with Pink Lining.

Photograph by Peter Mann © Sargy Mann Archive

It is testament to Sargy's great positivity and inner vision that he was able to transpose onto canvas a world experienced through touch and coloured by memory.


With many thanks to Peter Mann at the Sargy Mann Archive for his help in cataloguing this painting.

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Sargy Mann was born in Hythe, Kent in 1937. He studied at the Camberwell School of Art and then returned to the school as a lecturer from 1969-1988. He held a number of other academic and curatorial positions including, co-curator of the "Bonnard at le Bosquest" exhibition at the Hayward Gallery (1994) and Visiting lecturer at the Prince's Drawing School (1999-2008). He exhibited extensively at the Royal Academy, Royal College of Art and the Mall Galleries.

Sargy was diagnosed with cataracts at the age of 36 and ultimately lost his sight but continued to paint and exhibit to astonishing effect for the last 25 years of his life.

His obituary can be read here and further information on Sargy can be found at the

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