12:19pm Friday 15th October 2010
By Charles Hutchinson
THE ArtSpace is dead. Long live According To McGee, the new name for Greg and Ails McGee’s progressive, punchy gallery and workshop space in Tower Street, York.
“It’s not as hubristic as it sounds – more like a stamp of approval,” says Greg. “After five years of holding edgy contemporary art exhibitions, we’ve decided to re-launch The ArtSpace with a new look, new name and a new vibe, and we’ll have a riff of very exciting artists from both York and the UK to come next year.”
According To McGee will open on November 12. “We thought, how better to mark the past five years than by upping our game, stepping up to the plate and re-launching The ArtSpace as something less generic, and celebrating what we, our staff and Ails and I do so well: flying the flag for original art, which turns the blood to smoke and engenders gasps of awe when displayed on our white walls.
“If it’s coming from us as a gallery, then we’re happy to put our stamp on it: hence from now on The ArtSpace is According to McGee.”
The decision is a “no-brainer” reckons co-owner Ails. “We’re all in the middle of a difficult time for galleries,” she says. “The ArtSpace has earned a very strong identity with very loyal clientele, local and tourist alike, since 2005. To continue with a vague, diluted name won’t do us as a gallery or our exhibiting artists any favours, so the re-launch is a case of us wearing the team colours and underlining the importance of that crackle of electricity in the quality of the art we show.”
Reflecting on five years of ArtSpace exhibitions, Greg says: “We’ve had great success in running shows from internationally established artists in close proximity with shows from emerging artists. There’s a real synergy in following a show by a big name with the solo debut of a young punk straight out of Goldsmith’s.
“There may have been times when we went a little leftfield but no-one likes being able to predict what they’re going to see when they walk into a gallery, and that goes for artists and gallery curators as well as clients and browsers.”
Next month’s re-launch exhibition will be Doug Binder Full Circle, a solo show by the legendary Sixties’ figurative artist who once rubbed shoulders with The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and David Bailey and later became curator of Dean Clough in Halifax.
“We’re honoured that Doug Binder has agreed to open our line-up of new shows,” says Ails. “He’s a wonderful, warm guy and his paintings of female nudes are beautifully crafted. They’re lit as if from within with a butterscotch, refulgent light. In our opinion, he is Britain’s greatest figurative painter, and the coup is not just ours – it’s all of York’s.”
According to Greg, Doug Binder’s credentials are just as hip and relevant as those of any of the emerging artists in subsequent shows. “He’s as edgy as anything we’ve ever shown. His output has a yearning quality; you can sense how he’s still striving for artistic meaning after 50 years of practice,” he says.
“It’s the same restlessness that catapulted him on to the international market in the Sixties and Seventies and seduced the likes of Lennon and McCartney, both of whom became friends. McCartney even commissioned Binder to paint his famous Knight piano. His pedigree is up there with the best of them.”
Ails concurs. “It’s also his attitude, a gratifying stubbornness to refuse to become a brand,” she says. “Doug’s wilful determination to frustrate his followers and, like the title of the show, to come ‘full circle’ and hone his skills in the life room, is always a good sign.
“It’s all there in his new book, Doug Binder Full Circle, which he’ll be handing out in signed copies on the opening night. There are no art dealers or moneyed managers here, just a master painter doing what he does best, and we’re buzzing to be able to exhibit him as the first of our new-look shows.”
Doug Binder Full Circle will run at the According To McGee gallery, Tower Street, York, from November 12 to December 17, 11am to 5pm daily except Sundays.
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