Online Viewing Room
Flowers Gallery celebrated its 50-year anniversary on 10th February 2020. This online presentation coincides with the exhibition 50 Years, which continues at the London Cork Street Gallery until 29 February 2020.
The exhibition includes works by John Bellany, Prunella Clough, William Crozier, Anthony Earnshaw, Nancy Fouts, Noel Forster, Terry Frost, Derek Hirst, Michael Kidner, John McLean, Paul Neagu, Eduardo Paolozzi, Jack Smith, Richard Smith and Michael Wolf.
This selection of paintings, photographs, prints and sculpture celebrates their contribution to the gallery programme, and the wider enduring legacy of their work.
50x50 a selection of 50 works by 50 gallery artists is also on view at Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road, until 7 March 2020. The exhibition includes 50 works by 50 gallery artists, representing the diverse breadth of the programme developed over the past five decades and emphasising the ongoing focus on exhibiting contemporary works of art.
For further information on any featured works please email email@example.com
William Crozier (1930 - 2011)
Oil on canvas
176 x 219.5 cm
From 1976-80, whilst based in Winchester, Crozier worked on a series of large-scale oil paintings the Watermeadows (the Swift's Lake series). The subject, the grassy lowland around Swift's Lake visible from the artist's studio window, was at first depicted by Crozier as damp and melancholy, echoing the description in Keats' Ode to Autumn, 1819. The later works in the series transformed, as the artist began to admire the landscape. Crozier found himself painting freely, in a looser style, stepping away from his previous focus of the post-war condition, to the primitive power of landscape. The paintings each over 2 metres in width were painted at great speed, and unusually for the artist, each canvas was completed in a single session. This work, along with 5 others from the series, was first exhibited in Spring 1, curated by David Annesley at the Serpentine Gallery in 1978, and recently in 2018 was shown at The Irish Museum of Modern Art in the touring exhibition William Crozier : The Edge of the Landscape.
Scottish artist John Bellany rose to prominence as a result of his pioneering painting style, which brought renewed attention to Scottish painting during the 1960s and went on to influence a new generation of artists. Focusing on Scottish history and symbolism, his figurative works combined maritime imagery and Christian iconography with representations of the lives of ordinary working people. Along with fish, Bellany frequently depicted different bird species in his paintings, often with human attributes. He developed a symbolic language in which people and animals merge with one another. The swan would feature again in his 1998 painting Leda and the Swan, an interpretation of the myth in which Zeus rapes a woman in the form of the bird. In this earlier work, the swan holds out a key in its femininely manicured hand, seemingly offering the male figure a means of understanding his own feelings of desire.
Forthcoming exhibition 16 April - 16 May 2020
For advance details email James Ulph
Prunella Clough is widely appreciated as one of the most significant British artists of the post-war period; she was described by Bridget Riley as ‘unmistakably a modern painter.’ Clough’s work is distinctive and private and yet always responsive to what was going on around her. Having worked as a cartographer during the Second World War, she developed a visual language for the changing boundaries between rural and urban in her paintings, drawing inspiration from industrial wastelands. Towards the end of her life, she became regarded largely as an abstractionist, but her work always retained a figurative base. Clough often refered to obsolete fragments of industrial Britain, like the discarded offcuts of rope suggested in the painting Undone. At the centre of the painting, a rope-like tangle of lines is at once industrial and uterine. Undone is an image that suggests life unravelling; the cords have been cut loose and the four corners are left to float into the unknown.
A Place Revisited, 1985
Oil on board
21.5 x 23 cm
Prunella Clough’s distinctive vision of the modern world, as seen through Britain’s industrial and post-industrial landscapes, had a considerable impact on post-war painting. She drew inspiration from the kind of object one would find on the edge of a building site and would otherwise be overlooked: electrical wires, gates, fences and a stationary vehicle. Negotiating the space between abstraction and figuration, these works display exquisite textural complexity. Clough herself described her painting practice as ‘saying a small thing edgily.’ In this pair of works, artificial colours bleed onto an off-white ground, reminiscent of the quality of light on an overcast day.
Anthony Earnshaw (1924 - 2001)
The Bride with her Bachelors Again: After Marcel Duchamp, 1991
45 x 40 x 10 cm
Anthony Earnshaw’s distinctive vision and sheer inventiveness led to a rich and varied artistic career, encompassing paintings, drawings, boxed assemblages, an idiosyncratic comic strip, pictorial alphabets and two published collections of his aphorisms. At the age of 20, through an interest in poetry and literature, he discovered Surrealism, which had a profound influence on his thinking and creative development. This otherworldly assemblage of objects serves as a tribute to Marcel Duchamp, an inspirational figure for Earnshaw in his Surrealism, making reference to Duchamp’s 1923 glass painting The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even. Earnshaw replaces the bride with a miniscule white lamb, perched inside an engagement ring box, and the bachelors have been reincarnated as plastic toy lions. The form of the missing ring is echoed in the circular door knocker above. Earnshaw built the boxes for his assemblages himself. They resemble stage sets in their framing of dramatic encounters.
Noel Forster (1932 - 2007)
Oil on linen
153 x 121 cm
Noel Forster’s colour fields made up from ‘nets’ of interwoven colour refer to the energy of which all light and matter is composed. Each composition vibrates with a kaleidoscopic configuration of light and colour, informed by his understanding of both music and science. The intricate nature of Forster’s work has inspired comparisons ranging from the play of sunlight on a field of corn to pages of calligraphy. This radiant composition resembles light shining through woven fabrics. Indeed, Forster actively drew on the texture of the canvas or linen he worked on in the structure of his paintings. His work also explored the act of painting itself as an architectural process combining line, colour, and negative space.
Nancy Fouts has been celebrated for her distinctive sculptures, which reconfigured everyday objects and ephemera with a characteristically playful and provocative humour. An avid collector of found objects, Fouts described her approach to gleaning ideas from everyday life as ‘beachcombing’, creating visual poetry from unexpected combinations, modifications or wordplay. Her innovative approach to materials and techniques included traditional processes and improvised methods of motorization and taxidermy. Her sculptures are often objects ‘come to life’: a breathing hot water bottle, or a sewing machine poised to mimic the performance of a record turntable. Created with an enduring curiosity and mischievously subversive wit, Fouts accumulated an inventive and immersive personal world that challenged conventional systems and categories of symbolic meaning.
Over the course of his career, Sir Terry Frost became one of Britain’s most prominent abstract artists. In his simple and poetic forms, bright and exhilarating colours spark off each other like electric charges, radiating energy outwards. Frost developed abstraction far beyond the formal sense of the movement, constructing his own emphatic visual language of crescents, spirals, triangles and circles. For Frost, spirals were particularly siginificant because of their potential to infinitely grow and their connection to the natural world. Frost was profoundly fond of the British landscape and found rich sources of inspiration in many of its regions including the distinctive forms of St. Ives harbour or the moon rising over Newlyn, both Cornish seaside towns that Frost lived in for much of his life.
A pioneer of Optical Art, Michael Kidner devoted much of his career to developing work of a constructive nature. Optics presented him with a challenge in his pursuit of a pure form of imagery, seeking a phenomenological approach to the fluctuating effects of light and colour within the space set by the canvas. Kidner explored scientific questions about the nature of vision, light and colour in his paintings. His works from the 1960s using the form of the wave serve to distil the idea of nature’s perpetual oscillation. He described how ‘the stripe was not a satisfactory form. I wanted it to contain the picture, but its length was indeterminate. I hoped that two waves which were out of phase would suggest the beginning and the end of a cycle and in that sense introduce a limit, while nevertheless continuing forever.’
John McLean worked on a large scale, painting spontaneously onto the canvas using fluid paints to make abstract and rhythmic compositions that suggest light and space. He maintained a lifelong commitment to the value of abstraction. Indeed, he had befriended the critic Clement Greenberg in New York, the theoriser-in-chief of modern abstract art, who gave us the term ‘colour-field painting’. In this work, brightly coloured shapes float atop the picture plane, incorporating an element of dance and liveliness. Matisse’s influence on McLean is visible here, both through the playfully collage-like arrangement of shapes, and the use of colours, which resemble light streaming through stained glass windows. As is often the case with McLean’s works, the title carries the suggestion of a narrative.
Romanian-born artist Paul Neagu lived and worked in London until his death in 2004. Neagu’s philosophical approach to his art led him to push the boundaries of abstraction. Having used his own body as a medium in his performance of ‘ritual’ events, Neagu’s work often referred to embodied experience. Neagu worked with various repeated forms, such as ‘hyphens’ and ‘Starheads’. Starhead Figure is one of a series of motifs, (encompassing sculptures, paintings, drawings and objects) recalling the shape of an open star with 8 corners. Based on a circle, it is made up by angles, either obtuse or acute, resting on two ‘legs’, crossed to form a triangle. Neagu designed Starhead Figure to be seen from all angles, where the two legs could appear when seen from different aspects to be crossed, as a ‘closed path’ or opened up ‘like a gate’
Eduardo Paolozzi was one of Britain’s leading sculptors from the 1940s up until the early 2000s. Paolozzi repeatedly experimented with metamorphosing the human figure, blending geometry with nature. This is one of a number of studies which Eduardo Paolozzi created of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the blacksmith of Mount Olympus. There is an element of self-portrait to the artist’s depiction of this classical prototype of the metalworker. According to the myth, Vulcan was thrown from Mount Olympus by his mother Juno, who thought him ugly, resulting in his broken leg. Aided by a support to compensate for this injury, Vulcan is depicted here as a humanoid emblem of the machine age.
The painting Rise and Fall. Light and Sound 2 is part of a series of works described by Smith as “diagrams of experience or sensation”. The artist transcribed music onto canvas, finding shapes and lines to represent sound. One can attempt to read the work from left to right, like a musical score, or as a kind of bar chart tracking a jazz piece: the horizontal bands call to mind layering of instruments, vertical lines suggest musical intervals, and the staccato succession of black lines in the top right-hand corner evokes a drumbeat. However, Smith’s language of symbol and colour is deliberately indeterminate, denying any specificity of meaning.
Richard Smith has been described as “one of the most original painters of his generation”; he stood apart from the burgeoning Pop Art movement of the 1960s by melding the slick imagery of the commercial landscape with an expansive abstract painterly style very much his own. This work by Richard Smith expresses both restraint and violence: claw-like forms in vivid red and blue tear through a background of austere monochrome stripes. Smith’s use of multi-directional stripes gives the impression of conflicting planes, deliberately generating perceptual confusion. The artist himself described the role played by colour in the structure of his paintings: ‘I think of hedges of colour because there is a density in my colour like the density of a hedge. You can see through the colour but it still a solid, a wall, though you can penetrate it and see the different parts of the hedge on various levels.’ (Richard Smith Works on Paper: A Forty Year Survey – Flowers Gallery exhibition catalogue, 21st May -21st June 2014, p.3).
Michael Wolf is known for capturing the hyper-density of cities, such as Hong Kong, Tokyo and Chicago in his large-scale photographs of high-rise architecture and intimate studies of the lives of city dwellers. Michael Wolf’s work was always driven by a profound concern for the consequences of massive urbanization on contemporary civilization. Cheung Chau Sunrises is the final chapter of Wolf’s focus on cities. Marking the end of his intensive focus on the confined metropolis, in which the sky was never visible, Wolf’s discovery of the horizon in this contemplative series can be understood as a gesture of liberation from the modern city representing the prospect of peace and renewal. Every morning over two years, Michael Wolf photographed the rising sun from his home above Hong Kong’s Cheung Chau shore, capturing the transient daily spectacle in a state of boundless transformation.