John Gilks

Op Art from across the decades continues to confuse and educate

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Op Art may not be new, but there are some new names to savour from across the decades in Op Art Past and Present, on show into the new year at The White Room gallery in Leamington.

Gallery boss John Gilks is a fan of op art so much of what is on show has been in his possession for some time, and he has provides short biographies of the artists to further inform us.

Ivan Picelj was a Croatian artist and a particular favourite of John’s, so much so he once nearly visited Zagreb to track him down – them bitterly regretted not making the trip when the artist died in 2011. At one end of the gallery are three of his untitled works, large colourful circles, made up of coloured circles within (pictured above).

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Described as the grandfather of op art, Victor Vasarely is represented by a strange work that seems to warp and move, with net-like circles and squares (above).

Genevieve Claisse was born in 1935 in Quiévy, France, the great niece of abstract painter Auguste Herbin. Her prints on show here are large, overlapping circles.

Carlos Cruz-Diez, who was born in 1923 in Caracas, creates metallic works and there are circles and squares here in different colours which look different as you move around in front of them.

There is a swirly purple and green print by Bridget Riley, and going down the age range somewhat, Damien Hirst is represented by one of his dot paintings.

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The very present is represented in the exhibition by Carl Cashman (one work, Chanel, above), with several of his works included. Cashman is more of a street artist who is inspired by Op Art and created a long mural on a wall at the Glastonbury festival. Here there is Peace Hurts, the CND symbol hidden amongst blue and white stripes. Jam Hot and Hot are more like street art, small but with glitzy paint. Love Hurts has the letters for Love in different colours in a square.

It’s an interesting exhibition, introducing some older artists who are still not that well known except to op art aficionados.

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Horace Panter of The Specials lets his paintings take centre stage

Horace Panter Beijing Street Cleaner-1 (2)
It’s not uncommon for musicians to turn to art as the years go by. In some cases it’s a sudden and often wrong feeling they can paint, but in many cases it’s actually a return to their first love.
The latter is true in Horace Panter’s case. He studied Fine Art at the Lanchester Polytechnic as it then was in Coventry, graduating in 1975, and while there he met another art student, Jerry Dammers, and they went on to found The Specials and the 2-Tone record label, and forge a career in music.
Horace is now staging a show at the White Room Gallery in Regent Street, Leamington, following a couple of others, including one at The Strand Gallery in London.
Asked why he had gone back to painting, the svelte Horace said wryly: “The Specials won’t play for ever and you can be fat when you’re an artist.”
He said he’d always been interested in art, and all through the first life of The Specials he’d be the one on tour going to bed early so he could get up in the morning to go and visit galleries such as the Guggenheim. It’s clear he’s still an art fan – he was delighted with how busy The Herbert was when he went in to see the George Shaw exhibition (and George is a Specials fan).

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