Just when it seemed that London’s commercial galleries had ridden out the disastrous trading conditions of January and February, news comes of a fresh round of closures. Sandra Higgins, who operated from Bourdon Street behind Sotheby’s manuscript department, has locked her door after struggling to present unknown contemporary art for nearly two years. Ganz, which took over a large street-level space in Dover Street at the beginning of the year, has returned to Cambridge, director David Hugh Smith disenchanted by lack of swift success. Fabian Carlsson has extended his Sigmar Polke drawings exhibition indefinitely while he attempts to unravel why his landlords have failed to collect his rent from the building’s managing agents. More disappointingly, Nicola Jacobs is shutting the shop in Cork Street at the end of June, although in her case, as one of the well funded galleries in the street, the reasons are not exclusively financial. She opened in November 1979 and in the following twelve years introduced many interesting artists to London. She gave Ken Kiff his first gallery exhibition (he shows with Marlborough this month), she mounted an impressive collection of the works of Richard Artschwager (currently to be seen at Saatchi), and she captured the crest of the wave with Picasso’s ceramics. Of the dozen artists now looking for a new London representation, Lisa Milroy’s signature will be the most keenly contested. A show of paintings in her new abstract style, previewed in Bern in the autumn, was postponed by the gallery in May. Other artists affected by Nicola Jacobs’s decision are Tim Head and Simon Edmondson. Rumours still persist that at least one other prominent gallery in Cork Street is looking to retire as soon as an exit from the lease can be negotiated.
The major exhibition to be opening in London this month is Richard Hamilton at Anthony d’Offay (20 June - 20 August). Anxiously awaited (Hamilton has not shown a substantial body of paintings in London since his exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in 1975), this exhibition is a version of the exhibition which was organised for Winterthur in 1990 and which was subsequently seen in Hannover and at IVAM in Valencia, where it closed at the end of April. The centrepiece is “The Orangeman” (1988-90), Hamilton’s chilling companion to “The Citizen” (1982-83, owned by the Tate Gallery) alongside which it will be shown for the first time in this country. Together, this pair of diptychs make an alarmingly forceful statement about the divisions in Northern Ireland. There are new interiors, including “Lobby”, previously seen in Andrew Brighton’s “Blasphemies, Ecstasies and Cries” at the Serpentine Gallery. One gallery will contain drawings and prints. With his forthcoming retrospective pencilled for the Tate Gallery in September 1992, an overdue reassessment of Hamilton’s position in contemporary British art is imminent.
Ken Kiff joined Marlborough a year ago, having left Fischer, the gallery where he moved from Nicola Jacobs. Marlborough included his work in group exhibitions, with two acrylic paintings in its reopening exhibition last month, but is now exhibiting twenty-five new nightmare fantasies (7 June - 6 July), a half of which are pastels and drawings. The new medium of acrylic gives greater translucency to Kiff’s colour and proves a successful experiment. It will be interesting to watch how he responds to the proximity of Old Master painting when he takes up his job as artist-in-residence at the National Gallery over the summer. There is a simultaneous exhibition of new prints, including monotypes made with Garner Tullis in New York, at Marlborough Graphics.
Mimmo Paladino looks the most interesting of the four or five younger Italian artists who attracted attention a decade ago. He has painted a new series of twelve pictures with his familiar sculptural ingredients under the title of “The Breath of Beauty”. Six were exhibited by Sperone Westwater in New York in May ($165,000), and the remainder of the series can now be seen at Waddington (19 June - 13 July).
Mark Boyle and his Family, not seen in London since the Hayward Gallery retrospective in 1986, have made seven new wall reliefs in paint and fibreglass (£12,000-50,000) which they are showing at Runkel-Hue-Williams (to 29 June). Titled “The Wasteland Series”, they were created during the last eighteen months from the roads and curbs of the Silvertown area of Docklands, far from Australia and New Zealand where the dart which they throw at the map to decide upon locations for their work had previously taken them.
To coincide with the major exhibition of the abstract German painter Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902-68) at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh (see p. 8), Fischer Fine Art is showing from 5 to 28 June ten major paintings and a number of works on paper executed by Nay from the 1950s onwards. Wolfgang Fischer has for years been conducting something of a crusade to introduce the British public to German and Austrian twentieth-century art, almost wholly unfamiliar until the 1985 Royal Academy exhibition.
Francis Graham Dixon runs an imaginative gallery in Clerkenwell. Last September, he doubled his space and now controls ground and basement floors in Great Sutton Street where he is mounting his second exhibition of the sculpture of Willard Boepple (to 7 July) who works in New York and was exhibiting with Andre Emmerich in April. Boepple builds ladder constructions in cedar and maple and painted steel, some of which are encrusted with a rich profusion of geometric shapes. This exhibition comprises ten sculptures, two of which are large floor pieces, including “Peterson Barley” ($15,000), the others being table-top works ($5,000).
Tim Harrisson is a British sculptor who showed with Pomeroy Purdy in 1988 and whose new exhibition is taking place at Madeleine Ponsonby’s New Art Centre (to 22 June). The largest work in Sloane Street is “Reflection” (£12,000), comprising five flat lozenges of Purbeck limestone, and there are two smaller stone sculptures and a wooden relief as well as a suite of drawings (up to £2,000). “Bearing” (£30,000), an impressive new sculpture of five vertical conical forms arranged in a row, also in limestone, has replaced Barry Flanagan’s bronze hares on the Economist Plaza (to 28 June).
For Lisson (to 21 June), James Coleman, who exhibited with Marian Goodman in New York in March, has made three new works, “Charon” and “La Tache Aveugle” being continuous slide projections, while “Ely” is a film production.
The following exhibitions were mentioned in last month’s column and are worth noting before they close: Gerhard Richter at Anthony d’Offay (to 17 June), William Tillyer at Bernard Jacobson (to 15 June), Fiona Rae at Waddington (to 15 June), Arturo di Stefano at Pomeroy Purdy (to 15 June).
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Hamilton at d’Offay'