It’s not every day that you walk into a gallery to be greeted by a cat in a traveling cage brought along by another customer. But the Beardsmore Gallery is like that – a friendly local gallery on Prince of Wales Road in Kentish Town, just down the road from the swimming pool, where the regulars pop in to see (and buy) the art. It’s currently showing Rebecca Salter’s latest pictures.
They’re serene, these pictures, cool and distant, almost entirely monochrome, with a calmness about them that is very restful.
I found their quietness had a familiar feel, probably because Salter’s work is so much influenced by Japan, where she spent six years living and studying. She has some interesting things to say about the Japanese approach to art.
‘You have to train and be an apprentice for years to become anything in Japan. What you learn becomes part of your body so you do it with your whole body’, she says, and you can see that dedication in her work.
She admires Yayoi Kusama, though her work is very different from Kusama’s recent work.
‘She did these wonderful early paintings that she calls net paintings. It was as if she had sprinkled sand on them and then drawn round the grains of sand. They are massive and obsessional. It is the obsessional and repetitive thing which I find so interesting’, Salter says, and if you saw the recent Kusama retrospective at the Tate you’ll know what she means.
The exhibition is titled ‘Beyond’ and in the catalogue Salter says ‘At the point of looking the eye of the viewer drifts past the complexities of the surface to inhabit the relative tranquility of liminal space and discover something universal and constant beyond.’
The tranquility is achieved through the obsessional use of line – to quote Salter again ‘I have decided that my work is about line, not space or light’ – and in many of the pictures in this show you can see just what she means.
At any rate the cat seemed remarkably calm.
Salter is also an expert on Japanese prints and printmaking techniques and has published two books about them, Japanese Woodblock Printing and Japanese Popular Prints, which are available on Amazon.
The exhibition continues until 30th March. The Gallery is open Tuesday to Friday 11 to 5.
Note – the quotes from Rebecca Salter come from this article by Fiona Robinson.