Gillian Ayres artwork added to Exeter’s collection
4 June 2018
RAMM has acquired a 2011 artwork by pioneer abstract artist Gillian Ayres.
Gillian Ayres (1930-2018) was one of the first artists in Britain to be influenced by American Abstract Expressionism and Colour Field painting. Her work is both powerful and lyrical. The addition of this work strengthens RAMM’s collection of abstract paintings allowing Ayres to be viewed alongside her contemporaries Patrick Heron, Sir Terry Frost, John Wells and Brian Rice. As one of Britain’s most significant post-war women abstract artists, her work begins to redress the historical dominance of the male artist within RAMM’s Fine Art collection.
The new artwork
The gouache-on-paper artwork, Shalimar #2, was presented by the Contemporary Art Society last year. With its energy, vibrancy, uplifting colours and smooth simple forms this painting is typical of Ayres’ work. Seed heads and flowers are set against each other in a whirling chaos of juxtaposing geometric forms.
Gillian Ayres at RAMM
In 2013, the exhibition at RAMM Gillian Ayres: Paintings and Prints 1986 to 2011 gave centre stage to both her celebrated paintings and her equally vibrant yet lesser known prints.
Gillian Ayres’ legacy
Gillian Ayres played a key role in reversing institutional prejudice towards Abstraction. Non-conformist and charismatic she was devoted to Abstraction and was inspirational to generations of artists. Her work is in the collections of the British Museum, Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She was made a Royal Academician in 1991 and was awarded a CBE in 2011.
Gillian Ayres died aged 88 on 11 April, 2018 in North Devon, England.