1996  |  1997  |  1998  |  1999  |  2000  |  2001 |  Previous  |  Next
Ayres, Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Ayres, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Courtesy of Gimpel Fils, London

May 1 - July 6, 1997

Gillian Ayres

In an exciting last-minute addition to the Yale Center for British Art's exhibition schedule in its twentieth anniversary year, the Center will showcase the latest paintings of Gillian Ayres. One of the premier British abstractionists, Ayres is one of the most colorful characters in contemporary British art. This will be her first major solo exhibition in the United States.

Fresh from the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where it was on display during February, the exhibition will open in New Haven on May 1. It will remain at the Center through July 6 as a contribution to the city's annual International Festival of Arts and Ideas (June 25 through 29).

Patrick McCaughey, Director of the Yale Center for British Art, has called Gillian Ayres, "a woman artist of great brilliance," adding "she deserves much wider international recognition, which we hope to provide her."

Gillian Ayres is a painter of natural, unforced vitality and vigor who creates wholly abstract works that are, nonetheless, filled with signs and symbols that engage the viewer. While this exhibition concentrates on Ayres' most recent paintings, her newest work is shown within the context of her entire career. Among the works in the exhibition are: Turkish Blue and Emerald Green that in the Channel Stray (1996), Midnight Shout (1996), Sucked-Up Sunslips (c.1994), Altair (1989), A Painted Tale (1984), and Cumili (1959).

Although Ayres' paintings seems spontaneous and effortless, the canvases evolve over time--sometimes over years. All action is followed by consideration, and her constant reworking of each canvas creates the rich, densely-worked surface characteristic of her work. Her paintings are at once tactile and, despite the loading of pigment, fresh and brilliant.

Born in London in 1930, Ayres trained at Camberwell School of Art (1946-50). In 1960 she showed in Situation at the R.B.A. Galleries, the first large-scale exhibition of abstract works by British artists. Her inclusion established her importance in the development of abstraction in Britain. She has taught at the Bath Academy at Corsham (1959-66), the St. Martin's School of Art in London (1966-78), and was Head of Painting at the Winchester School of Art (1978-81). Since 1981, Ayres has been painting full-time, living in North Wales until 1987, and since then on the coast of Cornwall. She was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1982 and was awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1986.

Gillian Ayres has shown in many group exhibitions, including the Royal Academy of Arts' British Art in the Twentieth Century (1987). In 1991, she was the sole British representative in the Seventh Triennale in India. Her last public exhibition in Britain was at the Serpentine Gallery in 1984, although she has regularly shown in commercial galleries, most recently at Gimpel Fils in 1996. Her works are represented in the Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Manchester City Art Gallery, and many public and private collections in Europe and the United States. Organized by the Royal Academy, London, the exhibition is being circulated by Dadart, London. An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition