THERE'S a most unusual exhibition of paintings opening in London next week. During November the Portal Gallery in Grafton Street will be showing the work of an unknown 78-year-old French priest.
For the past 20 years Canon Parreaux has spent all his spare time painting. He has had only one subject: flowers, flowers, flowers. The walls of his modest flat in the South of France are lined with his delicate work, but only his close friends have been able to admire it.
He paints in a highly individualistic style, first outlining the flowers in pen and ink and later filling in with water colours.
Canon Parreaux's work might have remained unknown for ever had it not been for a chance meeting with Fritz Gross, a Viennese architect and painter now living in England. Gross called to see the Canon and his 80-year-old sister who keeps house for him one day last spring and immediately recognised the value of the priest's painting.
He compares Parreaux with Henri Rousseau the French primitive painter who died in 1910. "Like Rousseau," Gross says, "Canon Parreaux is unique in his way. He is a most modest man who looks awfully surprised when you praise his work. In fact, he gives the impression of being almost ashamed."
The Portal Gallery will be showing forty of the Canon's pictures at prices from 30 to 50 guineas. To give you some idea of just bow unknown he is at the moment, no one in England even knows his Christian name. But if the art fraternity are to be believed we may have another Grandma Moses on our hands.