This Spring the Alan Cristea Gallery will unveil a new series of works, alongside a select group of historic paintings, spanning the career of Gillian Ayres RA CBE, one of Britain's most respected and best-loved painters. Now in her 85th year, and after 65 years dedicated to abstract art, Ayres continues to produce a considerable body of work with unceasing vibrancy and energy.
Displayed in the gallery space in 34 Cork Street will be four large scale paintings by Ayres spanning 1959 - 1997. The group includes Cumuli, undoubtedly one of her most important paintings, and the one which, as the centrepiece of the Art Council's 1960 seminal exhibition, Situation, established Ayres' reputation. These four paintings trace the evolution of Ayres' style and accomplishments as a painter over the first 40 years of her career. Progressing from the early use of oil and ripolin thrown and poured onto wooden panels towards her recent use of thick applied oil paint to create clear and defined edges and shapes, these works demonstrate how Ayres has always forged her own path in a completely original way. These works have never been offered for sale before.
Ayres' new paintings and works on paper will be exhibited in the gallery space at 31 Cork Street. Her love of colour and light has been appropriated from the natural world to create works full of movement. Despite her insistence on abstraction, recurrent shapes in her recent work remind us of natural phenomena, such as, petals, wings, fans, leaves and stars, and the titles of works draw on place names, names of flowers and famous gardens, or most recently the verses of poets such as Oscar Wilde, Dylan Thomas and William Butler Yeats. Ayres has consistently made prints in numerous techniques over the years. A selection of prints, including woodcuts, etchings and hand-painted monoprints, will be displayed alongside the paintings.
Ayres, who still spends every day in the studio, continues to break new ground with paintings and prints that are exuberant, vigorous and full of colour and energy.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, with an introductory essay by Martin Gayford.