Hastings Contemporary Opens
Hastings Contemporary, a new, independent art gallery opened to the public on Saturday 6th July.
Set on the historic Stade on the seafront in Hastings, the gallery will bring a dynamic programme of modern and contemporary art to the South East, exploring and interrogating works by national, international and local artists.
Hastings Contemporary opens with two major exhibitions which champion the medium of painting: Tal R: eventually all museums will be ships and Roy Oxlade: Shine Out Fair Sun.
Tal R: eventually all museums will be ships explores the work of international contemporary artist Tal R and reveal new works. Tal R works with a wide range of media from painting to textile design, sculpture to video art, and he constantly renews and enriches his artistic practice and way of working. Known for his unique ability to experiment, reinterpret and create afresh, Tal R is a versatile artist whose work explores and takes inspiration from his surroundings. The exhibition title, which both befits the iconic, ancient fishing beach flanking Hastings Contemporary and recent evolution of the gallery to its new independent status, is a nod to the content of the exhibition and also a poetic reference to the artist’s creative process.
Roy Oxlade: Shine Out Fair Sun is the first major public gallery exhibition of British artist Roy Oxlade (1924-2014). Roy Oxlade was an artist, art writer and highly influential teacher. Oxlade’s approach to painting was instinctual, energetic and bold and he was well known for his powerful use of colour.
Roy Oxlade: Shine Out Fair Sun features work from over 50 years of Oxlade’s artistic output, including some of his earliest paintings produced in the 1950s while studying under David Bomberg, alongside Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff. This exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to encounter a prolific and previously overlooked artist’s vision that impressed many of his students and contemporaries.
Oxlade believed that art should be rooted in nature and the artist’s immediate surroundings, taking inspiration from the objects of daily life, ‘things, trees, houses, cats, people’. In keeping with this belief, Oxlade’s work reflects his everyday life living and working alongside his wife and fellow artist Rose Wylie RA on the South East coast of England not far from Hastings.
Both Tal R and Roy Oxlade are credited with invigorating the rich painterly tradition through their creativity and teaching and influencing the next generation of artists. Hastings Contemporary’s inaugural exhibition in turn brings together two artists who knew of each other and admired the other’s work from afar. Speaking in 2008, Oxlade remarked that Tal R “continues to be one of the best and most promising of today’s artists.”
On the choice of Hastings Contemporary’s inaugural artists, Director Liz Gilmore stated: “We are excited to launch Hastings Contemporary with major exhibitions of Tal R and Roy Oxlade alongside one-room display of David Bomberg and our Artist Patron Sir Quentin Blake. The extraordinary talents, abundant creativity and intuitive approach of each artist, fly the flag for painting. We’re excited to be launching this new chapter in Hastings history and to continue to bring world-class exhibitions to our cherished sea-side town.”
Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England has said: “The opening of Hastings Contemporary marks a new chapter for a gallery that has already made a big impact in the life of the town and has won a reputation for presenting exciting shows in its award-winning building.”
Alongside these two major presentations, Hastings Contemporary also presents Roy Oxlade & David Bomberg a display exploring the relationship between teacher and student through the works of David Bomberg (1890-1957) and his student Roy Oxlade. The display, made possible by a partnership with the prestigious, private collection of Daniel Katz, showcases a number of key works by David Bomberg that explore two of his main artistic themes: portraiture and landscape alongside early works by Roy Oxlade that illustrate Bomberg’s influence on the young artist. Both artists with their own distinct practice, Bomberg and Oxlade shared a number of ideas: they both believed that objects and places should be central to an artist’s approach and rejected traditional academic teaching.
Sir Quentin Blake (b. 1932), has had a home in Hastings for nearly 40 years and has continuously supported the gallery. He is Hastings Contemporary’s first Artist Patron and has produced new works for the opening of the gallery. For this new exhibition Quentin Blake: The New Dress, Blake has responded to the transformation of the gallery by producing a series of delicate sketchbook drawings of characters exploring transformation and structure via fashioned outfits. All works featured have been produced using graphite on paper.
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Gallery photo © Iona Marinescu