Gillian Ayres: Paintings from the 50s

Gillian Ayres, Cumuli, 1959 (courtesy of the artist and Alan Cristea Gallery)
Gillian Ayres, Cumuli, 1959 (courtesy of the artist and Alan Cristea Gallery)

Robin Greenwood writes about an exhibition of paintings by Gillian Ayres at Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, on view through November 25, 2012.

Greenwood notes: "Far from concentrating upon their own materiality, I very much like the fact that these works are really quite modest and meagre in their use of paint, judicious in the means of manufacture, and refreshingly sparing in their use of colour. The varied thinness of the paint is one very keen factor in their spaciousness; it is undoubtedly this quality of spaciousness which is the key attribute of these works. It is a spaciousness which at its best is not born of depiction or descriptiveness, but of an intentional and progressive abstract-ness. What makes this not only a very good show, but also a very interesting show, is the fact that you can follow the nurturing of this quality, and the subtle but distinct shift of Ayres accomplishments as a painter which over a two or three year period brings it about."

He continues: "One of the things that struck me looking at these paintings is how little they make one aware of a picture plane; how very unflat they are; how very un-graphic in every sense; and yet, how true to the integrity of the painted surface. The spaces herein are not wrought out of illusionistic ambiguities, but from plastic certainties."