Jean Dubuffet, Tour aux récits at Smithson Plaza23 September 2020–13 August 2021 The installation of Tour aux récits at Smithson Plaza, produced in collaboration with Pace and Encounter Contemporary together with Waddington Custot, comes at a time of renewed focus on the radical French artist, who is often cited as one of the most powerful and provocative voices in the post-war avant-garde.
Paul Feeley: Space Stands Still12 April–6 June 2021 Waddington Custot is pleased to present Paul Feeley: Space Stands Still, the first solo exhibition of Feeley’s work in the UK for over 50 years. The exhibition shines a light on this significant but relatively overlooked artist who worked with Clement Greenberg and played a pivotal role in the careers of many seminal abstract artists, including Helen Frankenthaler.
This exhibition charts the development of Feeley’s abstraction over the course of his brief but prolific career, presenting pieces from the 1950s through to those created just before his untimely death in 1966 at the age of 55. Works by Feeley, including oil on canvas paintings and three-dimensional sculptures in wood, are shown in the UK for the first time. The works are characterised by Feeley’s distinctive approach to symmetry and pattern through curving shapes in vibrant colours. The central forms and repeated motifs, often in symmetrical clusters, are reminiscent of vertebrae and teeth, molecular structures or jacks.
Although often associated with Abstract Expressionism, Feeley broke with the movement in the 1940s. Speaking to Lawrence Alloway in 1964, the artist explained ‘I began to dwell on pyramids and things like that instead of on jungles of movement and action... The things I couldn’t forget in art, were things, which made no attempt to be exciting.’ And so Feeley’s work moved away from gestural abstraction and into ‘a quiescent art of stability, poise, and space’, as described by Douglas Dreishpoon in Imperfections by Chance (his 2015 essay on Feeley). This astute observation is echoed by Feeley’s comment that in his paintings ‘space stands still’.
Frieze Viewing RoomFabienne Verdier 5–14 May 2021 On the occasion of Frieze New York 2021, Waddington Custot celebrates the work of French abstract painter Fabienne Verdier. The solo presentation focuses on Verdier’s expression of the way in which sound energy, created by vibrations, moves through substances, inspired by her experience as the first artist in residence at The Juilliard School, New York in 2014
During her residency, Fabienne would join the practice sessions of musicians and singers and attempt to capture the music she heard as a visible manifestation on the page, as she described: “I closed my eyes and I heard something and I got a totally new vision of what sound is. A new structure appeared in my brain: I discovered a new form, a new dynamism which was a real revolution in my painting.”
This idea was further developed the following year with ‘Vide Vibration’ part of a commission by the Roberts French Dictionary, in which Verdier considers silence as a kind of inhabited emptiness, preparing our mind to the relative movement of sound energy.
Also included in the Frieze New York presentation are large scale paintings in a restricted palette of just two colours, including the ‘Infra-Red’ series in blue and red. With this combination, Verdier makes reference to the edges of the light spectrum as perceived by the human eye, and the light which remains on the retina, still ‘seen’ when the eyes are closed. In this respect, Verdier was interested in the impact of light energy on our bodies, as compared to the effect of sound energy, and the continued effect of the vibrations of music once a piece of music is stopped.
In 2020, Verdier returned to the arias she had been inspired by at the Juilliard School to create the ‘Vortex’ series. For these large scale canvases, Verdier prepares the background over several weeks with: a single colour, worked into the surface. The single gestural motif is created with an immense brush, suspended from the ceiling of her studio by a thick chain. In the ‘Vortex’ paintings on view here, the gesture takes the form of a whirling helix, painted in response to the operatic scaling of sopranos and altos performing Mozart arias.
Peter Blake: Time Traveller18 June–13 August 2021 Waddington Custot is pleased to present Peter Blake: Time Traveller, an exhibition dedicated to the groundbreaking exploration of collage by iconic British artist Peter Blake. This comprehensive survey show, which includes a number of important museum loans, investigates the fundamentals of Blake’s practice in collage over a career spanning seven decades, bringing together historic works and never-before-seen pieces. A new monograph, Peter Blake: Collage, which includes a foreword by Blake’s schoolfriend David Hockney, will be published by Thames & Hudson to coincide with the exhibition.
Peter Blake: Time Traveller charts the development of Blake’s approach to collage-making, beginning with his layering of subject matter in early painted compositions and experiments with collaged paper after encountering work by Kurt Schwitters in the 1950s. From here, the exhibition travels via Blake’s rise to prominence as the ‘Godfather of British Pop art’ to his current, self-proclaimed Late Period. From his found object constructions to his most recent digital print photo-collages, Blake has broadened the scope of what collage can comprise and what it can communicate. Peter Blake: Time Traveller includes works from Blake’s Alphabet and Museum of Black and White series, as well as pieces made in homage to fellow artists Sonia Delaunay, Kurt Schwitters and Robert Rauschenberg. Clowns, wrestlers and Icons are shown alongside work around souvenirs and holiday postcards.
The artist’s largest canvas work to date, Late Period: Battle, is seen on view for the first time. The piece, measuring 183.4 x 293.5 cm, was started by Blake in 1964 only to be abandoned and left unfinished until the artist turned to collage to complete the work in 2018.