This week I’m looking South West at Tate St Ives’ Indiscipline of Painting exhibition. If you’re in Cornwall or the Westcountry, the show runs until January 3rd, so there’s still a few weeks left to take it in. Also, who could resist an excuse to visit St Ives with its fresh light and plethora of artists and galleries, even in the winter months?
A visit to Tate St Ives is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, and this whitewashed gallery with its panoramic sea view is an altogether refreshing addition to a seaside visit. Something about the quality of light in St Ives has attracted many big-name artists to live and work in the remote seaside town for over a century. The arts scene and exhibitions here feature and are inspired by early 20th Century artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Patrick Heron, and Naum Gabo, amongst many others. More recent St Ives artists include Wilhelmina Barnes-Graham, Sandra Blow, and Terry Frost.

Tate St Ives’ artworks tend to have a wonderfully retro, modernist, Bauhausy feel that reflect the town’s roots as an artists’ colony in the early 20th Century. Acorrdingly, the gallery’s latest show “The Indiscipline of Painting” is full of works with a retro, graphic abstract style. Branching out from St Ives to include artists from the UK and around the world, the show features big names such as Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Gerhard Richter, and Bridget Reilly, to include an impressive 49 artists in total. According to Holly Grange of Tate St Ives,

The paintings are arranged to generate visual and conceptual connections, rather than a ‘story of abstraction’. They raise interesting questions such as – how can painting be said to relate to contemporary society? And where do the worlds of abstract painting and industry, decoration, advertising and graphic design collide?

In terms of abstraction’s relation to contemporary society and visual culture, the exhibition features younger artists such as Turner Prize winner Tomma Abts, Katharina Grosse, and Alex Hubbard.

Two of my picks from the exhibition are Primalon Ballroom by Mary Heilmann, and Eggs by Andy Warhol.

Mary Heilmann 'Primalon Ballroom' 2002, Oil on canvas and wood, 50 x 40”,

Souce: Kenny Schachter & Ilona Rich, ©Mary Heilmann

Eggs by Andy Warhol

One painting is from the mid-20th Century, and one is more recent, but both show the sense of graphic abstraction and bold use of colour that runs through the entire exhibition. This is a well put-together show in a perfect location – if you can make it to Cornwall, seriously consider checking it out.