Gillian Ayres

25 November 1990 — 28 January 1991

In a unique collaboration, Castlefield Art Gallery and Cornerhouse are jointly representing an exhibition of Gillian Ayres most recent paintings.

Gillian Ayres as established a reputation as one of a small number of truly abstract British painters. Since her earliest days at the Camberwell School of art in the 1950’s, where she felt little sympathy for the predominance of ‘kitchen sink realism’, she has defiantly and persistently trod her own path. Excited by the radical experiments with paint presented by Jackson Pollock in the 1950’s and deeply motivated by the work of Monet, Gillian Ayres has single-mindedly pursued the possibilities of paint with dynamic enthusiasm. She has a deep commitment to painting and her work is unashamedly a celebration of that and life itself.

Imbued with a wonderful sense of joie-de-vivre, Gillian Ayres paintings are large, colourful and positive. The scale of the work is a human one which relates to the body: every mark the result of an arm movement, or turn of the wrist. (The marks themselves are the detail and contain the detail of the painting). Gillian Ayres on occasion begins a painting using her hands to apply the paint ‘ the hands and the fingers are very sensitive instruments for painting’. She does not necessarily continue to use this way of working throughout the painting but it is the beginning of ‘a process of looking for something to happen in the painting’. A painting is elicited from the canvas. In the past, Gillian Ayres has worked on individual canvases to the paint of their physical collapse. Now, the crags and crevices of the heavy impasto surfaces are replaced by more open spaces, lighter surfaces, singing movement and more defined structure.

In emptying the studio and entrusting the works to a gallery Gillian Ayres invites the viewer to share in those moments of ‘finding an experience that is true to oneself’. It is in the sharing of experience in which meanings are found.