Galleries - October 2011

Birdman via the shiny armour-plating of one of her Goggle- Heads to the gently puckered plaster surfaces of her late Desert Quartet, shows an artist always fully – and personally (no assis- tants ever)– in charge of her medium’s expressive power. Also in a retrospective vein is the display of Roy Turner Durrant’s handsome abstract paintings from the 1950s-1980s at The Gallery in Cork Street, which is being mounted by the Katharine House Gallery to mark the launch of Peter Davies’ monographon this curi- ously neglected artist. There is of course, always plenty of good work in Cork Street from living and younger genera- tion artists and this month I would draw your attention especially to Nicolas Ruston’s powerful explo- rations in painting and video of mass media and modern myth and McAlpine Miller’s imaginative and technically brilliant Neo-Figu- rative investigations of popular culture at Hay Hill. Don’t miss either former shipwright James Dodd’s memorable large new paint- ings of boats from the Northern Isles and the East and South coasts (among others) at Messum’s or the work of four, gifted and very different painting sisters at The Gallery in Cork Street in a show entitled ‘The Four Brushes’. N U younger generation of British painters. Motherwell himself, of course, was never unaware of the shifting grounds of current paint- erly practice, as one of his major series, Open, a response to the work of the younger Minimalists and beautifully represented here, makes plain. It’ll be fascinating to see what response this show gets from both artists and critics . . . Two other shows that really must not be missed are both ded- icated to sculptors, Elisabeth Frink at Beaux Arts and Marino Marini at Imago (in Clifford Street techni- cally, but it virtually faces down the length of Cork Street) and which, given their shared passion for horses and the human figure, should make for fascinating com- parisons. A somewhat neglected figure in this country these days, rarely seen here on any scale, Marini was a vastly admired figure in post-war Europe (and certainly a major influence on the young Frink, among many others) so this show of his intensely expressive and profoundly humane work in the stylish spaces of Imago is greatly to be welcomed. It’s astonishing to realize that it is some 20 years since Elisabeth Frink died – her vivid and much loved personality still seems so very fresh in the mind – and this exhibition, ranging from the rough tortured surfaces of an early On The Street Having seemingly weathered the apparent threat posed by the explosion of gallery start-ups in the East End – there would, in the event, seem to be plenty of room in the London art scene for both – Cork Street is currently faced by a much greater danger, the recent announcement by Standard Life that they intend to go ahead with plans to sell, most probably for redevelopment, part of their sub- stantial property portfolio on the street, nos 22-27 – home to some 7 galleries. The implications of this for the future are highly problem- atic, to say the least but ‘The Street’, I am delighted to report, is fighting back vigorously, and not just with e-mail petitions, but in the best of all possible ways: with the quality of its exhibitions. A snapshot of October’s shows, for instance, gives a very good idea of just what is at stake here, with Bernard Jacobson ’s stun- ningly strong Robert Motherwell show particularly catching the eye. Motherwell, who died just 20 years ago, was one of the key fig- ures in the evolution of Abstract Expressionism, and this show of some 90 (sic) drawings and paint- ings on paper from most phases of his long career (apparently the first ever dedicated to this aspect of his work to be put on in this country) comes at a moment when abstract art, albeit of a very different philosophical bent, is going through a period of remark- able renaissance among a much 12. GALLERIES OCTOBER Images previous page from left: E lisabeth Frink ‘Birdman’ at Cork Street Gallery. Nicholas Ruston ‘How shall the New Environment be progammed’ at Hay Hill Gallery. Robert Motherwell ‘Untitled’ at Bernard Jacobson CORKSTREET plenty of good work in Cork Street from living and younger generation artists