40 Years On: Spring 2017
Marking 40 years at the heart of the London art market with an interesting new group exhibition reflecting their diverse range of British artists available in the Gallery.
Beginning with William Gear's typically powerful abstract piece Composition 1947, moving through intriguing work by Alan Davie and John Plumb and ending with a new bronze by Jonathan Clarke, 40 Years On reflects the changes in the art world over the last four decades as well as championing the genuinely exciting artists living and working in the 21st century.
"This exhibition illustrates where we have been, where we are now and where we will be in the future," explains Stephen Paisnel.
After initially specialising in the social realism of the Newlyn School, the logical next step was to focus on some of the most important post-war St Ives painters and sculptors. Over the years the Gallery has boasted some of the finest works by Paul Feiler, Terry Frost, Roger Hilton, Denis Mitchell and Patrick Heron, and are delighted to be able to present some of these artists' work in 40 Years On.
Heron's Soft Vermilion and Olive In Brown (1961) is a particular highlight, the rich ochres of its background lending this remarkable oil on canvas a distinctly meditative quality.
40 Years On celebrates artists in this field that the gallery has featured and promoted over the years, such as Alan Davie, John Plumb, John Tunnard and Frank Avray Wilson. Trevor Bell's Red Black and Intensities, a 1959 work inspired by Italian landscapes, is neatly representative of these artists' shared interest in the immersive power of colour.
"One enduring ethos has been our guiding principle," says Stephen Paisnel. "To offer a diverse range of British art, both aesthetically and financially, to ensure that no collector is excluded from our commitment to presentation, professionalism and choice."
That broad remit also means the inclusion of figurative works in 40 Years On, including John Bratby's famous Red Boots (1954). It was originally purchased by Oscar-nominated director Ronald Neame after Bratby had helped in the production of The Horse's Mouth, written by and starring Alec Guinness. Aptly, he played an eccentric artist.The gradual shift to focus on artists working from the 1980s to the present day is also reflected in this exhibition, with two connected mid-career works from Keith Milow of particular interest. Drawing 89/9/79/D layers oil paint onto lead and copper to stunning effect. Additionally, pioneering pop-artist Eduardo Paolozzi's Head, 1993 is a portraiture brilliantly subverted, a cubist plaster work both strikingly modern and deeply timeless.