“As one might expect from the Redfern Gallery, there is a most up-to-date display of all the latest avant-garde painters. The summer shows at the Redfern are always of a high level and quality, whatever type of work is shown.”
With these words Redfern’s 1960 Summer Show was praised in the columns of Art Quarterly, whose glowing review emphasised the quality of the show whilst tacitly setting it apart from other galleries’ attempts at embracing the same exhibition formula.
It seems in fact that to most people, there is only one Summer Exhibition- the monster gallimaufry that is on at the Royal Academy from June until September every year. The Redfern Gallery however has held its own Summer Show on a regular basis since 1924, when the work of then-students Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore was displayed alongside that of emerging young British artists.
Since the Twenties, the Redfern has regularly presented thought-through selections of Modern Masters’ paintings and sculptures together with the work of household names such as Eileen Agar, John Carter, William Gear, Anthony Gross, Ffiona Lewis, Danny Markey, Patrick Procktor, David Tindle, Leon Underwood and Keith Richardson-Jones. These same artists will be shown in Redfern’s 2016 Summer Show alongside Modern Masters of the likes of Francis Bacon, Arp, Chagall, Dubuffet, Giacometti, Léger, Matisse, Picasso, Moore, Nicholson, Miró and Severini.
Eschewing the preoccupation with following a method of relating works according to their iconography or structural meaning, Redfern’s 2016 Summer Exhibition interweaves visual languages and splintered imagery as though it had been wound up and pre-set for instant visual release. The emphasis is rather on art in and of itself; on paint, textures and dynamic systems of interlocking relationships, which the observer is prompted to make its own.
Extremities of identity merge in a harmonised experience of artistic eclecticism reviving the original spirit at the core of Redfern’s long-term tradition of Summer Shows. By no means, all the exhibitors appear to be identifiable with a school or a movement, stylistic and ideological underpinnings having always been rebuffed by Redfern’s penchant for creative inclusiveness.
The eclectic Salon hang of the upcoming display will open up unexpected parallelisms between works that have never been shown together before.
A celebration of a long-term tradition, that of the Summer Exhibition, experimenting with fluidity, texture and chromatic vibrancy. A new visual legacy for objects of fascination and admiration for new audiences to come and explore.
Here is to all past and future Redfern’s Summer Exhibitions!