The strong, enticing aroma of coffee mixed with cologne paves the way to the Victoria Miro Gallery, located in the heart of Mayfair. Navigating the zig-zagging side streets leading away from Saville Row, the artistic hub rubs shoulders with several neighbouring galleries, independent cafes and bespoke tailors, notorious for putting the street on the map.
A far cry from the larger, more frequented central London galleries, the Victoria Miro is a compact, intimate space.
‘Surface Work’ – a celebration of abstract female artists - is currently showing at the aforementioned site, and at its sister gallery near Angel. One afternoon, we headed into Mayfair to see what it was all about.
L: Alma Thomas - Untitled – 1961 M: Adriana Varejão - Azulejão (Moon) – 2018 R: Howardena Pindell – Untitled - 1971
The name of the show originates from a quote by the Abstract Expressionist painter, Joan Mitchell, who said: ‘Abstract is not a style. I simply want to make a surface work.’ A statement which rings true on viewing the compositions; it’s hard to paint each one with the same ‘abstract’ brush, as they all have such a different feel about them.
The cross-generational exhibition centres on modern art, painted by women from all over the world, and shows how the ‘genre’ has developed over the past hundred years or so, with the first painting having been completed in 1918.
Adriana Varejão - Azulejão (Moon) - 2018
Back to the opuses themselves. We loved the brightly-coloured, almost mural like paintings, though we may be slightly bias, as we adore colour and feature it heavily in our own designs.
There were a few large-scale pieces which also had a commanding effect on the room. Recurring themes included the use of impasto and mixed-media elements, the impactful use of repetition and multiple effects, and the bold splashes of colour cascading across canvases connecting the ceiling to the floor.
There were no information cards by the paintings themselves. A cut-out sheet with further information was available from the front desk. But it was refreshing to be able to encounter the works without initially understanding the backstory behind them; not everyone will draw the same meaning from an abstract painting, which is why we like displaying contemporary designs in dining rooms and lounges, as some of the best conversations take place in front of a gutsy, ambiguous piece of art.
Liubov Popova - Non-Objective Composition, c.1920
The exhibition runs until May 19th and is well worth a visit. The gallery is compact, so you could fit the Victoria Miro Mayfair into an afternoon of gallery-hopping.