Galleries - January 2016

Back in 2005 I wrote a profile on Open Eye Gallery after it had moved into its sumptuous New Town space. Then it was run by Tom and Pam Wilson who had built it into one of Edinburgh’s leading commercial galleries. Jilly Dobson and her staff have continued to organise exhibitions of high quality fine and applied arts from a very impressive array of renowned practitioners in painting, sculpture, prints, ceramics and jewellery. In painting for instance such prestigious names as Alan Davie, Barbara Rae, John Bellany, Alberto Morrocco, Glen Scouller, Joyce Cairns, Adrian Wiszniewski and Henry Kondracki have all shown in this attractive venue. Meanwhile, alongside these established figures, they have always been keen to find and promote young, emerging talent in both arts and crafts; their anniversary exhibition, ‘35 Years of Open Eye Gallery’ shows over 50 artists who they have worked with over the years. BH At a moment when contemporary art in London is going through one of the greatest booms/upheavals in its history, it is sad to learn of the recent death (aged 81) of Leslie Waddington whose Waddington Galleries, established in Cork Street in 1966, can justly be said to have transformed the market for Modern and Contemporary Art in this country. A highly cultured man, he was educated at the same Dublin school as James Joyce and studied at the Paris Ecole du Louvre before learning the art trade with his father, the celebrated Dublin dealer Victor Waddington, who had also set up in Cork Street in 1957. French 20th C. art was always a passion and core of the business, to which he soon added many younger generation American and British artists –the American Colour Field Painters and Peter Blake, John Hoyland and Patrick Caulfield, Anthony Caro and William Tucker. While the Tate was still hopelessly conservative, his gallery was, along with Bryan Robertson’s Whitechapel, the place to go and see the best of contemporary art. Articulate and outspoken, not to say fiery, he also had a notable reputation for honesty. It is wonderfully appropriate therefore that the show which opened at Waddington Custot the week he died was of portraits by an artist he had championed from the 1960s, Peter Blake. It contains a hitherto unseen portrait of Leslie himself, along with Blake’s more familiar studies of wrestlers and circus acts, the singer Ian Dury and the actress Helen Mirren. Like him, not too solemn. . . NU Now here’s a show to lighten the winter gloom post Christmas – a full on Hieronymus Bosch, a great Hans Holbein Studio ‘Henry VIII’ , a previously not exhibited Andrea del Sarto ‘Madonna and Child with St John’ and a superbly typical Bronzino portrait, not to mention works by Bellotto, Van Dyck, Claude and Teniers –all in a startlingly starry show entitled ‘Remastered: Bosch to Bellotto’ and set in the romantic, evocative setting of Petworth House. A follow up to their superb ‘Mr Turner’ show last March, this takes its impetus – and title – from a major re-evaluation of the collection’s holdings including the cleaning and reframing of certain key works and new interpretations of all of them. Shown in their fine new contemporary gallery space and three relit and rehung rooms in the house, this show provides wonderfully unexpected resonances and connections, all the more remarkable for being in this setting – a ‘house of art’ for over 200 years. NU Contributors: Nicholas Usherwood, Bill Hare from left: A ndrea del Sarto ‘Madonna and Child with Saint John and Three Angels’, Petworth House Robert Maclaurin ‘Winters Day in the Forest’ Open Eye Gallery Peter Blake ‘Leslie Waddington with Portrait of a Young Man by Hans Memling’, Waddington Custot JANUARY 2016 GALLERIES 9 50 at 35 Leslie Waddington Master stroke