Galleries - January 2010

10. GALLERIES JANUARY 10 P ublished 40 years ago, Joe Tilson’s ‘Fragments of an Oneiric Alphabet’ remains one of the key works of Pop Art. Printed at the pioneering Kelpra Press, Tilson made witty and technically inventive use of the then recently developed screenprint process to explore what amounts to a complete iconography of 60s political, philosophical and ideological culture – Ho Chi Minh, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King are all here, among others. He may have moved away from Pop shortly thereafter but he perhaps did nothing better. (At Open Eye 2 ) J oe Tilson ‘An Oneiric Alphabet’ (detail) E velyn Williams must be one of the most stubbornly tenacious and imaginatively gifted octogenarian painters at work in Britain today. The expressive intensity and emotional force of the figurative works – often on a very large scale – flow from her studio in North London with absolutely no signs of any lessening either in quantity or quality. This new show at Martin Tinney, which celebrates over 60 years of creative activity, is an absolute stunner, but where on earth is the museum retrospective and Tate purchase? A disgrace! Evelyn Williams ‘The Flowering Tree’ J ohn Cecil Stephenson can rightly be regarded as one of the forgotten figures of 20th C. British abstraction, much esteemed by collectors but, to date, without major museum recognition. The reasons are hard to fathom – the hard-edge abstraction he was doing in the 1930s as a member of the 7&5 Society alongside Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, his contributions to Circle and friendship with Mondrian are backed up by work of tough refinement – the late, more fluid style no less than the earlier work. (At Keith Chapman ) J ohn Cecil Stephenson ‘Abstract Figure’ 1945 A few years back Sophie Benson, working as artist-in-residence at Harewood House, discovered a box full of 19th C. photographs of the house and grounds. Fascinated by this elusive glimpse back through time, her work took on a radical shift of direction as she evolved a complex process of projection and large-scale water bound pigment. The effect, in these paintings of icebergs and frozen landscapes, possessed of metaphysical overtones reminiscent of Caspar David Friedrich and Andrei Tarkovsky, is eerily threatening. (At King’s Place ) Sophie Benson ‘Floating Island Series II’ 2005 G raduating as a printmaker from the RCA five years ago, Zoë Schieppati-Emery’s astonishingly evocative, delicately beautiful 2-D and 3-D pieces would seem, on the evidence of this new show (at Bicha ) to be gaining an ever-increasing sense of conviction. At the heart of her work appears to lie a need to find images which weave together the corporeal and sacred elements of human existence – consciousness in truth – and she brings to it both a formidable range of techniques and a delicate intelligence. Z oë Schieppati-Emery ‘The Origin of the Species’ THUMBNAILS Nicholas Usherwood