Galleries - May 2012

Bell, Dubery & Maris In 2010 Trevor Bell, one of the few remaining greats of abstract art, celebrated his 80th year with an exhibition at Millennium Gallery (Map 11) of such extraordinary freshness and dynamism that one wondered if, two years on, he could equal it – he has! Born in Leeds, Bell acquired his modern- ist credentials in St Ives during the fifties before a lengthy residency in Florida took him to the USA. It's a telling trajectory and one to bear in mind as you absorb the intense physicality of the vast, irregular shaped canvases and striking colour contrasts of work that celebrates, in his words, “being here”. Henrietta Dubrey, an artist whose work stylistically links her to St Ives is showing for the first time at Stoneman Gallery in Pen- zance (Map 10). For this she has teamed up with Stella Maris, with whom she shares Sussex roots and who cites journeying between the two as inspiration for her screenprints. Dubrey herself has always been an artist to watch and in this show it is fascinating to see her both re-exploring the figure as subject matter and incorporating figurative motifs within her abstr- act work. If she's swimming against the stream (most artists make the reverse journey) it's surely testament to her increased maturity and confidence. PP Daphne McClure Daphne McClure ruefully admits that her current exhibition at Cornwall Contemporary (Map 10) in Penzance may be her last solo show – let's hope not. Her residency at the Albers Found- ation in 2005 was a reinvigorating experience, allowing her to re- connect with concepts of design and balance that she first en- countered at Hornsey in the 50s studying with Alan Braund, the 'when in doubt take out' maxim that has always been key to her work. And in this exhibition she is embarking on a new theme, mov- ing away from previous leitmotifs – Field, Mine and Harbour – to begin a series of still lifes based around the joyous shapes of jugs. Each is personal to her, one bro- ught back from France, another is Italian, while the favourite is simple, straight-sided and banded in black and white. In contrast, and somehow managing to be both ecological statement and salutation to Josef Albers and his wife Annie, work from a radically different second series is also included – squares knitted from waste plastic bags and mounted in threes à la 'Homage to the Square' combine texture and stunning colour to reveal, para- doxically, something gorgeous and desirable. A post modern take on Albers, “to see that pebbles are miraculous” perhaps. Pip Palmer Keith Vaughan Of all the major post-war artists, Keith Vaughan has, for too long, remained perhaps the most enig- matic and critically under-valued. Until now, that is, when there are no less than three major shows of his work running concurrently this month – a major retrospective at Pallant House (Map 16), a strong works on paper (a number from the estate) show at Anthony Hep- worth Fine Art (Map 14) and a mixed exhibition at Agnew's. Why it should have all taken so long to happen is too complex a business to go into fully here – perhaps related to the issues around his complex sexuality and melan- choly life, as well as varieties of institutional indifference – but that, thankfully, is now all in the past with these marvellous shows. Essentially, it is just this sense of melancholy, I feel, that imbues all the work; from its beginnings in an intensely atmospheric wartime/ 1940s Neo-Romanticism right up to the austere monumentality of his late, great figure compositions and monumental landscapes, it provides a consistent and distinc- tively emotional thread of poetic feeling, transmuting what could so easily have become earnest exercises in style and form – Sutherland initially, Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse later on – into the powerful statements of a great humanist. NU V enetia Norris ‘Arrangement 1’, pencil & gold leaf on paper at Fenton House. H.M. Bateman ‘The Guardsman Who Dropped It’, The Tatler 1 December 1922 at Cartoon Museum. K eith Vaughan ‘Les Illuminations de Rimbaud’, gouache on paper at Anthony Hepworth Fine Art. Trevor Bell ‘Storm out there’, at Millennium Gallery. Stella Maris ‘Living it Up’, (detail), at Stoneman Gallery. D aphne McClure ‘Favourite Jug’, at Cornwall Contemporary 11. GALLERIES MAY 12