Members dominate Gallery II, which was also hung by Tom Phillips. The end wall is occupied by Sandra Blow’s mostly large abstracts in paint and collaged fragments of coloured canvas. Elected a member in 1978, she died last year at the age of 80, long since recognised as one of the finest abstract painters in Britain. The works in this, her memorial tribute, are less colourful than her more recent compositions, although this may be a misleading impression, the result of the intense, non-naturalistic colours of the two paintings by Michael Craig-Martin on the two adjacent walls. One is a simplified translation of Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières (an allusion perhaps to the theme of the entire exhibition: light), while the other is a hugely magnified self-portrait, instantly recognisable despite the boiled-sweet colours.
Works by Tom Phillips are shown here, too. Superjew, a collage made from tiny fragments of paper torn from American comic books, alludes to both Christ and Superman. Library at Elsinore, a corner piece, almost a trompe l’oeil, painted grey, is Phillips’s main contribution here. The shelves are full of real books whose titles on their spines have been replaced with quotations from Hamlet. Surprisingly, each author named really did once publish a book with the title shown. Finding the correct combination of quotation, author and book took some painstaking research over a period of two years. It’s a characteristically clever piece that demonstrates Phillips’s weakness for intellectual games. ‘What’s more,’ he proudly interjects, ‘it’ll be going on show at the real Elsinore.’