Damien Hirst has been provoking critics since the 90s so it’s no surprise that the opening of his Newport Street Gallery was met with mixed criticism. The gallery will focus on solo exhibitions of artists from Hirst’s own collection, and opens with a series of John Hoyland’s abstract expressionist paintings.
Hoyland’s richly saturated canvases are given the perfect backdrop, and in this space their zingy colours really pack a punch. The first room is stunning, showcasing his red paintings which bear the influence of Mark Rothko. Hoyland is often criticised for imitation, and while it’s true that his work is much indebted to colour field painters like Barnet Newman, they have their own flair and subtleties.
For me however the triumph of Newport Street Gallery is its arresting renovation by architecture studio Caruso St John. The space comprises three converted Victorian warehouse style buildings which were built in 1913 as scenery painting studios to serve London’s burgeoning West End theatre scene. Now it’s an impressive 37,000 sq ft white-walled paradise, airy, light and uplifting.
While the work might not inspire all, the staircase really is something to write home about …