Tom Phillips is responsible for the hang of this first gallery, and he’s not averse to a cerebral game or two. One of several here is the juxtaposition of a painting by R. B. Kitaj (which includes a slightly indecent self-portrait) with one by Harland Miller of the cover of an old-fashioned Pelican paperback, just the sort of image that Kitaj repeatedly silkscreened in the 1960s.
Harland Miller, Dresden Yeah, cheers for that. Watercolour on paper, 151.6 x 121.8 cm.
Honorary RAs are much in evidence here, among them Jasper Johns, Mimmo Paladino, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha and Antoni Tàpies. But a few ordinary mortals have been smuggled in between the VIPs, and the gallery is all the better for them, not least for Jiro Osuga’s contribution, a charmingly observed view of an underground railway carriage, presumably in Tokyo. Equally striking, though for quite different reasons, is Zhang Enli’s Art Museum. The gallery is empty and dilapidated, the walls are an uncomfortable red, and the whole looks less like a museum than an abattoir.
The skeletal drum kit is by Richard Wilson, who has an almost obsessive interest in drumming. It’s said that he’s remarkably good at it, too. Don’t miss the small wooden sculpture of a candle on a plinth by Gavin Turk to the right of the exit from this gallery.