Bill Viola, 'Acceptance' Photo: Kira Perov Several outspoken paintings are displayed on the left wall of this room, hung by Stephen Chambers with Ann Christopher. ‘It’s the artist’s equivalent of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound,’ says Chambers enthusiastically. At the centre, John Bellany reveals three pensive figures, perhaps in a fish shop, each holding a deep-sea fish, while behind the man enormous sting-ray draws our attention. Darwin and two monkeys can be detected in the paintings above Bellany’s, while Philip Sutton unleashes very bright colours in his paintings of flowers, and in a self-portrait where he is dressed as a harlequin. Barbara Rae’s Celtic landscape adds splashes of gold to this ensemble,while Gary Wragg’s enormous brushy abstract rejoices in hot reds and yellows. Frank Bowling’s tall painting, heavily impastoed, is reminiscent of a colossal boiling sun.
Opposite these flamboyant works, Alexis Hunter contributes a tactile and dramatic abstraction, where orange is dragged down an expanse of black textured paint. But photographic works play a commanding role here as well. Edward Burtynsky offers a close-up of a car-tyre dump and an aerial view of an industrial wasteland. A still-life of a cheese grater and a bucket by Peter Abrahams is, according to Chambers, ‘like a photographic version of a Zurbarán painting’. The false wall displays one work only: a video by Bill Viola called Acceptance (right),where water is falling on a naked woman. ‘It’s drenching her,’ says Chambers, ‘and she doesn’t have much choice. But there are religious undertones: it’s a kind of filmed late baptism.’