Exhibition highlights entrepreneur’s creative scope
David Ross, Lincoln native and co-founder of The Carphone Warehouse Group, is an entrepreneur and benefactor who has massed a superb collection of contemporary British art; some of which once hung on the walls of his house and now appear in the exhibition – Land, City & Sea: British Masters from the David Ross Collection at The Collection, Lincoln.
The paintings, photographs and sculptures on show, vary from the cities of the 1960s as depicted by David Hockney and Patrick Caulfield, moving through to more urban and suburban landscapes of Leon Kossoff and Jonathan Yeo. Ged Quinn and Tony Bevan portray the countryside while the moods of the seas are explored by Christopher Nevinson and Keith Vaughan, contrasting with works by Bridget Riley and sculptures by Barbara Hepworth – exploring place via abstraction and minimalism.
Sixty-four art works are housed in a separate square gallery, within The Collection: they appear to have been grouped by media and size, however some sections are by theme. As you enter the gallery and turn left, you are greeted by an enormous montage-like photographic work from Gilbert and George along with other photographic exhibits, housed in their own temporary alcove. Walking around the alcove barrier you encounter groups of paintings of urban sites (with similar restricted palettes) in London, which continue along the left-hand wall.
All the works on this wall are of a similar, large size. A couple (from different artists) are of heavy impasto. One by Frank Auerbach is one of his many paintings of Mornington Crescent; as in his other works, it looks as if the artist has applied the paint energetically, as if he was listening to some music with a strong rhythm. With thick dark lines to emphasise the curve of the road which draws you along the pavement and into the crescent itself – however you are prevented by the rope barrier. In this painting of the ‘Early Morning’, the artist has used complementary colours of yellows and blues to determine lights and shadows of the buildings and road during the sunrise. Why was I instantly attracted to this painting? It was a reminder of my life in London many years ago – I didn’t need to see the title, I knew exactly where it was, Mornington Crescent, London.
In contrast to the Auerbach painting, there is also a work on this wall by Leon Kossoff –Bus Stop , Willesden. While also of heavy impasto, it is far more muted in its palette and in my opinion has the opposite effect of the Auerbach: instead of being drawn in, the viewer must stand back in order to determine some order of resemblance of sense within the painting – which this achieves. This wall leads into another built in alcove housing country sports paintings and drawings.
Coming back into the main gallery, the outer, back wall continues with a single row of large paintings of trees and their written descriptions. Greensleeves – by Hurvin Anderson – is the picture used to promote the exhibition; appearing on the advertising posters and exhibition booklet.
Anderson H, 2017, Greensleeves, Oil & acrylic on canvas, The Collection, Lincoln
Although his work is unfamiliar to me, this picture on the exhibition flyer is what attracted my attention to the exhibition. Greensleeves was displayed as part of the 2017 Turner Prize, where Anderson was one of the four shortlisted artists.
The artist is credited with painting bewildering pieces composed of mixed characteristics.
Anderson’s scenes in this painting appear to shift between abstract and representational focus, which he achieves by using overlaying repeated images with decorative screens and abstract patterns, interfering with the landscapes underneath. As a large painting, I was only just able to stand far enough back from Anderson’s piece to see it all and I struggled to decide from which side to commence viewing it. It looked as if it had been painted or printed from right (maybe representing time past) to the left -present time. However, does the artist meaning me to see trees emerging from it or disappearing into it? Regardless, I was drawn to this piece because the rhetorical question.
Moving around to the right-hand wall, the subject changes to the sea. Here you will find two small works by Keith Vaughan. Separated by eleven years of time, there is a such difference the styles. Painted in 1944, The Wave, (in Indian ink with wax-resist and gouache) is in portrait view and clearly shows a large wave crashing over the seafront road and despite the Neo-romantical style. This is in sharp contrast to his second piece painted in 1955 – Black Rocks and Beach Huts -oil on board and is Abstract in a landscape view where the rectangular shapes have been placed successfully to reflect the title. Vaughan, a self-taught Yorkshire artist, was beset by internal struggles as a conscientious objector during the war and then with his sexuality. During this period, he changed his style however the muted colours that he used throughout remained constant – entirely appropriate for the subjects. Viewers, who have visited the Yorkshire coastline, cannot fail to recognise the setting through the atmosphere so cleverly depicted.
This wall is completed with artists quotes printed onto the wall followed by some ‘Pop-Art’ exhibits with a nautical theme. From here you’re attracted and directed to the centre of the gallery, which has been given a mini ’maze’ quality and houses the remainder of the exhibits, including more abstract paintings and the sculptures.
Because of the large number of works in this exhibition (and the rope barriers) there is little spare room for luxuries such as seating: indeed, at peak times it could be envisaged that the gallery could become quite full with a relatively small number of visitors inside. Despite this, the variety of the works make this an exhibition of importance –not often accessible to the public and therefore very worth of a visit.