Peter Kinley was a painter of near-abstract landscape and figure subjects. He was born Peter Nikolaus Arthur Eduard Schwarz in Vienna on 16th July 1926 to Austrian and German parents. He came to England in 1938 as his father was Jewish, thus they were forced to leave after the Anschluss in 1938 – his parents went through Switzerland to France and he did not seen them again until 1946.
He was sent to Lytham St Anne’s in Lancashire and was fostered by a Roman Catholic family. Kinley served in the Army from 1944-8 and then studied at Düsseldorf Academy 1948-9. Unknowingly, he was a contemporary of Joseph Beuys there whose work he later greatly admired. Later, having returned to England, Kinley studied at St Martin’s School of Art 1949-53 and obtained British citizenship.
In his practise, Kinley explored a love of the natural world, in part inspired by his father’s edition of Alfred Brehm’s great illustrated natural history of animals, as well as trips to the mountains in his early life. He also took a strong interest in architecture and functional, technical machinery. In his own words Kinley explained: ‘…don’t forget that I grew up in a re-arming Europe and that such images were familiar to me. I played as a child with highly sophisticated model ships and planes.’
He exhibited in the ‘Six Young Contemporaries’ exhibition at Gimpel Fils in 1951 and 1953 and was influenced by the de Staël exhibition in London in 1953. Kinley’s first one-man show was in London at Gimpel Fils in 1954 and in New York at Paul Rosenberg & Co. in January 1961.
His work is published in Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, ‘The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture’, London 1964. He left London in 1970 to teach at Bath Academy, and his work began to reflect his more rural existence. He saw his own work as being figurative, not in the 19th Century sense of realism or naturalism, but as based on observation of the subject. Kinley died in September 1988.