Hung by Ann Christopher with Allen Jones, this immense gallery is dominated by Cy Twombly’s vast painting of three flowers. They erupt in boldly simplified brushstrokes, sending multiple streams of pigment coursing down to the base of the board.
Inscribed next to them in Twombly’s typically wavering script, a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke refers to roses ‘wet as one who weeps’. Yet melancholy is offset by Rilke’s reassuring description of the flowers as they ‘lean against the dawn’.
Gus Cummins RA, Opposition. Oil Photo: John Bodkin
In another prominent position, a rigorous relief by Phillip King exemplifies the desire of the co-ordinators of this year’s exhibition to place sculptural work on the walls. But most of the works in this gallery are paintings. Michael Craig-Martin stands out with his tense image of the word ‘desire’, closely packed and entangled. Humphrey Ocean offers reassurance in a series of beckoning, undoubtedly comfortable armchairs.
Gus Cummins brings us back to earth with his dramatic pictures of collisions, painted as if glimpsed from a speeding train or car. Jeffery Camp explores danger somewhat more obliquely in a group of paintings of weather-beaten figures and a high, plunging cliff-face. Tracey Emin’s turbulent painting issues a warning about the desirability of a child’s toy animal. But the last word surely belongs to Leonard McComb, whose portrait of Carel Weight is inscribed with two lines of dialogue between the artist and his sitter: ‘At long last it’s looking like you Carel.’ ‘I hope it’s not looking too much like me.’