Goodbye white gallery walls! After the initial reception area, the walls are traditional burgundy, the colour favoured by 18th and 19th century picture galleries in great houses and new public galleries such as Playfair’s National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh and Sir John Soane’s Dulwich Picture Gallery. The reason is very simple – the details of old masters are generally visually stronger when viewed against dark walls. White walls tend to be the province of modern paintings. It is therefore a surprise to find the latest works of one of our modern artists, Turner prize-winner Keith Tyson (born 1969), being shown against traditional burgundy walls in Hauser & Wirth.
There is a reason. The theme of the art is an old one, still lives with flowers, but here given Tyson’s contemporary twist in 25 variations of the theme. Never has something so simple as a vase of flowers had so many variations, with flowers bursting out, flowers dying and flowers being coaxed into life in a variety of containers from glass jars (very modern) to traditional vases and various accessories such as toys and games, so that many of them would be an inspiration to a budding author to create a unique story about what Tyson has painted, perhaps linking the viewer back to the theme of his early series of works ‘Drawing and Thinking’, many of which were exhibited at the 2001 Venice Biennale. These are certainly works to make you think, dream and imagine, so go and immerse yourself.