Sprüth Magers reopened their greatly-expanded London headquarters on Grafton Street last night (28 September) with a terrific show of new paintings by Gary Hume inspired by childhood memories and his relationship with his now-ailing mother. More recent reminiscences also filled the private view which, in testament to the affection and admiration in which Hume is held by his peers, acted as a clan gathering for an entire generation of artists formerly known as the YBAs. Among those saluting their contemporary and friend were Hume’s old Goldsmiths university classmates Fiona Rae, Mat Collishaw, Sarah Lucas and Abigail Lane, as well as their erstwhile tutor and mentor Michael Craig-Martin. Also in attendance were Tracey Emin, Rachel Whiteread, Marcus Taylor, Fiona Banner, Gavin Turk, Don Brown, Antony Gormley and Jane Simpson.
Along with admiring Hume’s works, many of which have a distinctively crinkled rippling surface that mark a new technique of using gloss paint on paper, there was also much enthusiasm amongst the throng for the revamped Sprüth Magers galleries. The space now extends over four floors and includes an unexpected double height room in the basement which, according to Andreas Lechthaler, the architect responsible for the gallery’s refurbishment, had been the rather grand kitchen in the building’s earlier incarnation as a Mayfair mansion. Apparently the original architect of these swish new premises was Sir Robert Taylor, the fashionable 18th-century figure who was also responsible for the nearby Ely House (now home to Thaddaeus Ropac’s gallery). Indeed, such was the evening’s collegiate spirit that Thaddaeus Ropac was a conspicuous attendee at the Sprüth Magers opening, toasting his fellow European’s shared commitment to converting the capital’s most elegant historical spaces into crucibles for contemporary art.