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Gillian Ayres: Paintings and Woodcuts

16 Mar 2017 - 22 Apr 2017

"A good painting is a number of coloured marks, made by hand, brush or roller, across a flat surface, so that later a viewer can absorb emotional and intellectual energy from it. A good, or great, painter is simply a hard-working individual who has, over a period of time, produced many good paintings. By this reckon-ing, Gillian Ayres has to be one of our finest." Andrew Marr, 2016

In Spring 2017, a major solo exhibition by Gillian Ayres RA CBE (b. 1930), one of Britain’s most respected and best-loved post-war artists and a pioneer of abstract painting, will be launched at the Alan Cristea Gallery, London (16 March – 22 April 2017). New paintings will be shown alongside a series of recently completed works on paper, unseen early drawings and a monumental painting made by Ayres in the early 1970s.

To coincide with this exhibition, Art/ Books, will publish the definitive monograph on Ayres. Written by Martin Gayford it is the first major publication on the artist’s life and work in more than fifteen years.

Unconventional in life and in work, Ayres, who turned eighty seven in February, continues to forge her own individual path regardless of fashion or opinion. The preparation for this major celebration of Ayres’ work has brought to light an unseen monumental action painting from the early 1970s, and an archive of preparatory works, drawings, paintings, and unpublished photographs.

Never before seen early paintings will be shown alongside a monu-mental painting, Untitled (Cerise), 1972, which will be displayed for the first time since being made. Untitled (Cerise), is a rare example of a surviving painting from this period. Ayres pinned the canvas to the wall of her attic, which stretched the length of her house in Barnes, South London. Thick acrylic was laid on top of the canvas and swept down, to end in runs and dribbles. Gestural work on such a vast scale was reminiscent of European tachiste painting and American abstract expressionism.

Not wishing to conform or to be categorised in any way, Ayres has adopted a variety of styles and techniques throughout her career. These early works will be shown alongside new paintings, dating from 2016, which use thick applied oil paint to create clear and defined edges and shapes, and a recently completed body of woodcut prints, works produced by an artist at the height of her powers and that are exuberant, vigorous and full of colour and energy.

The new monograph, Gillian Ayres, will span Ayres’ six-decade long career. Featuring over 400 pages, and 300 illustrations, it includes a foreword by broadcaster and journalist Andrew Marr, and texts by author and art critic, Martin Gayford and David Cleaton-Roberts of the Alan Cristea Gallery. These will be accompanied by previously unpublished photographs of the artist in her studio and at home.

Monograph and upcoming exhibitions:

Film: Gillian Ayres Book Launch and Authors Talk 
Click here to watch a public discussion led by broadcaster and journalist Andrew Marr, author and art critic Martin Gayford and David Cleaton-Roberts, of the Alan Cristea Gallery, to celebrate the launch of a monograph on Gillian Ayres. Chaired by Helen Waters, of the Alan Cristea Gallery. Recorded on 19 April 2017.

Gillian Ayres
Foreword by Andrew Marr
Texts by Martin Gayford and David Cleaton-Roberts
Hardback | 406 pp | £45.00
Published by Art/Books. Available from the Alan Cristea Gallery or online via   

Gillian Ayres
National Museum Cardiff, Wales
8 April - 3 September 2017
The largest exhibition of Gillian Ayres’ works to date presents paintings and works on paper from 1950s to 1980s, offering a unique insight into the untold story of the influence of Wales on Ayres’ life and work.

Gillian Ayres
Tremenheere Sculpture Garden, Penzance
1 April – 14 May 2017
A solo exhibition of new prints and sculpture curated by David Cleaton-Roberts and Helen Waters of the Alan Cristea Gallery.

London Original Print Fair
Royal Academy Arts, London
4 - 7 May 2017
The Alan Cristea Gallery will dedicate their booth to new prints by Gillian Ayres and Cornelia Parker.

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