News from London: Apocalyptic plans at the RA, the band splits up at Helly Nahmad Gallery, while Victoria Miro and Gagosian move on

Victoria Miro is moving to a nice area and Gagosian is heading for Heddon Street

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Apocalypse now at the Royal Academy

As the dust settles on the various furores whipped up around “Sensation”, Royal Academy exhibitions secretary Norman Rosenthal is busily planning another contemporary art extravaganza, which is scheduled to open at the Royal Academy in mid-September. “I’m still in the process of getting it going. I’m still dreaming it up, so I don’t want to give it away, but I can say that the working title is ‘Apocalypse’,” Mr Rosenthal told The Art Newspaper. “Every age lives on the edge of the abyss and has its own sense of apocalypse and this abyss is in art as it is everywhere. But it’s not just a descent, its also a renewal. Read the Book of Revelation: out of catastrophe a new world is born.”

So what form will this apocalyptic vision take? “We are going to show artists of all generations—some artists are incredibly distinguished, some very young—but it is not going to be what I call a “biennale” type show with hundreds of artists,” Mr Rosenthal insists. “Each artist will be given one room to themselves, so there will be fourteen or fifteen one-man shows.”

“This is an exhibition on a scale that has never been done in England before; it is not another ‘Sensation’,” declares Mr Rosenthal’s associate curator, Max Wigram. “This is a show for the head as well as for the eye. The spectator is going to have the chance to go one-on-one with the artists we consider to be the most fascinating and important artists working today.”

Who these artists are, Messers Rosenthal and Wigram are refusing to divulge, except to confirm that the exhibition will include “Hell”, a giant swastika-shaped sculpture by Jake and Dinos Chapman. “A few months ago, they rang me and asked me to come and see the piece in their studio and I was completely unprepared for what I saw,” says Mr Rosenthal. “It is on a level with Bosch or Brueghel.” Other artists’ names being bandied about in association with the exhibition are Young British Artists Angus Fairhurst, Darren Almond—and Jeff Koons, who it, is rumoured, is being approached to make a massive piece for the Academy’s courtyard. “There’s a lot of speculation, but we are still deciding,” says Mr Wigram. “However, I can say that we promised the Chapmans that we’d find work of equal calibre to theirs. Their piece won’t stick out like a sore thumb.”

Miro moves East

After fourteen years in her now cramped premises on Cork Street, Victoria Miro is to join the steady stream of West End galleries moving East. “I’ve really been looking for a long time—a good two years—but as soon as I saw this building I knew it was worth waiting for,” Ms Miro told The Art Newspaper. However, until the transaction is fully completed in February, she is reluctant to divulge the exact location of the three-storey building that she is currently in the process of purchasing. “I can reveal that it’s just off City Road and that it backs onto the canal,” she said. “It’s a beautiful Victorian warehouse building, but is rather grander than a warehouse. It dates from the 1860s and is more of a villa in style, very austere, minimal and beautiful. I’m thrilled.”

Ms Miro told The Art Newspaper that the building has two main floors each with eighteen-foot ceilings, a smaller top floor with a glass ceiling, and, as with her Cork Street gallery, Claudio Silvestrin will be the architect responsible for its conversion into exhibition, storage and office space. “At first, at least, we plan to use just the ground floor as gallery space and we hope to be open in some form by the early summer,” said Ms Miro. “We’d like other galleries to come and move here. It’s a very nice area”.

Gagosian’s spring opening in Heddon Street

Six months after reporting that Gagosian Gallery was opening in London in a “great space in Mayfair” (The Art Newspaper, No.94, July-August 1999, p.65) The Art Newspaper can now confirm that Gagosian’s European wing will be at 8 Heddon Street, just off Regent’s Street, which is also home to Sadie Coles HQ, Terence Conran’s Zinc Bar and the fashionable Moroccan restaurant Momo. The new gallery consists of 3,500 square-feet of gallery space which has been designed by Caruso St John Architects (who have also been responsible for the New Art Gallery in Walsall and the directional signage of Tate Modern at Bankside). Although directors Mollie Dent Brocklehurst and Stefan Ratibor are currently keeping the gallery programme under wraps, the aim is, building work permitting, to open the gallery “the sooner the better” in the spring.

Hyman parts from Nahmad and goes solo

James Hyman, exhibitions director of Helly Nahmad Gallery since 1997, has now parted company with Nahmad and set up his own business. “It was all very amicable, but I am more interested in contemporary art than Helly is, and also more interested in British art,” said Mr Hyman, who was originally Mr Nahmad’s tutor at the Courtauld Institute. “I intend to use secondary market dealing to support and complement my work with younger artists. I want to establish my own identity as a contemporary art dealer.” In addition to specialising in international art since 1945 and twentieth-century British art from the Camden Town Group through the School of London up to Damien Hirst et al., Mr Hyman’s plan is to open a space in which to mount a contemporary programme. He already has two young artists on his books and if all goes well he will have found them a showcase by the end of the year. In the meantime, he is working out of his home in Belsize Park, by appointment only (% +44 (0)171 435 2829).

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Apocalyptic plans at the RA'

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