6 July - 30 July
This show of paintings and drawings by John Dougill (1934-2015) is offered as a reminder of a fine artist, and a tribute to a dear friend.
In work as intelligent and witty as it is heart-felt and resolutely painterly, Dougill opens up a world of signs and portents; presenting us with an environment that though shot through with beauty is also ineluctably drawn to destruction.
Ships display a desperate semaphore, ships as metaphor and carriers of frail humanity, sinking fast. Growing up in Liverpool the sea is a constant subject, he follows it as it ebbs and flows in and out of consciousness, absorbed by the distant look to the horizon as well as its endless assault on the shore.
Aeroplanes slice through a livid sky and in his own words: ‘ the incision and ultimate dissolution of vapour trails can be spectacular, but they are also poison.’
Romantic and yet never blind to the troubles brewing, prescient yet clinging to the wreck of beauty, the range of his work is staggering, the allegorical breadth informed as easily by Greenpeace as Giorgione, Sebald and CND.
in fact as a very early supporter of Greenpeace, Dougill was well aware of the direction towards which the over-industrialised world was heading, and his meticulous small paintings offer a warning all the more powerful for their potentially disarming simplicity. Though he is no longer here his works bear witness to the coming storm, the rising sea-levels, the lions in the streets.
In lines that we quoted in 2004, for John’s very first solo show at studio1.1:
“Paris changes; nothing in my melancholy
stirs … new mansards, arrondisements razed en bloc,
glass, scaffolding, slum wards – all allegory!
My memories are heavier than rock!”
Charles Baudelaire, ‘Le Cygne’, freely translated by Robert Lowell
The gallery is 2 minutes walk from Shoreditch High Street station. Alternatively Liverpool Street and Old Street stations are approximately 15 minutes walk from the gallery.
Buses: The 8 and 388 stop close by on Bethnal Green Road. The 149, 67, 242 and 243 stop on Shoreditch High Street.
Please contact Transport for London for detailed travel advice tfl.gov.uk.