This issue prises open the colour of Gillian Ayres at the Fruitmarket and (overleaf), the opening of a new specialist




photography gallery in Glasgow.

Art in the Round

From early October, Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery will host a major exhibition of the paintings of Gillian Ayres, one of Britain’s most distinguished abstract artists.

Born in 1930, Gillian Ayres spent her childhood in London during the war, deciding at the age of fourteen that she wanted to be an artist. At sixteen, she began her career by entering London’s Camberwell School of Art, which she left in 1950. She participated in the first ‘Young Contemporaries’ exhibition in 1951, and began her teaching career at the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, in 1959, leaving in 1966. Her distinguished teaching activities included St Martin’s School of Art, (1966—78), and

Winchester School of Art ( 1978—81). where she was Head of Painting. Her two children were born during this time, in 1958 and 1966. She decided in 1981 to give up teaching and concentrate on painting full-time.

Two things appear to have happened in Gillian Ayres‘ art in the late 19705 which affected her physical approach. In 1978 she turned from the use of acrylic paint, (which dries quickly), to oils, (with its more luscious texture, but slower drying properties), and in 1979 she paid a visit to Florence, where she was struck by the large number oftondos, (round pictures), painted by Italian artists. Tondos were favoured by Italian Renaissance painters for religious paintings, probably because of the attributes of the circle it has no beginning or end and is therefore a perfect shape and a symbol of God. Besides its symbolic value, the circle as a painting surface has no

_ corners, allowing the artist, (and particularly an

; abstract artist), a great deal of flexibility when it : comes to swirling motions.

Ayres‘ paintings are significantly abstract. They are dominated by the importance of the textural quality ofthe paint and the effect ofthe gesture of placing paint on a surface. In common with many major abstract artists of this century her picture titles frequently have musical references: ‘Rondeau‘, ‘Madrigal‘, ‘Ding Dong Merrily On High‘, ‘Dido and Aeneas'. (a reference to Purcell’s opera?), etc. The non-visual, and therefore, abstract processes behind music making are very congenial to abstract artists, (as well as mathematicians for that matter). It seems reasonable that Gillian Ayres, an artist whose means ofexpression is non-figurative, finds importance in the symbolic shapes she paints on and her ear is the influence that guides what her hands produce. Her colours are vibrant and singing, her paint is all-important in the shapes that the movement produces and it is up to the viewer to enter into the spirit of this world and see what the painter is singing. (Victoria Keller)

The List 29 September- 12 October 1989 53