Basil Beattie: Recalling Echoes

19 May - 1 July 2023 London

Opening reception: Thursday 18 May, 6 - 8pm

Hales is delighted to announce Recalling Echoes, Basil Beattie RA's third solo show with the gallery. In an exhibition of paintings and drawings made over the past decade, Beattie continues to explore a unique system of visual codes and painterly language with which he has become synonymous.
Beattie (b. 1935, West Hartlepool, UK, lives and works in Mitcham, Surrey) graduated from the Royal Academy schools in 1961 and was elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 2006. Over a sixty-year career, he has carved out a process-based practice deeply concerned with the experiential qualities of painting. A pioneer of abstraction which emerged in post-war Britain, Beattie is known for gestural, painterly, monumental compositions. In non-figurative mark making, the artist's paintings have developed beyond his New York School predecessors to include symbols and signs.
Ever since a pivotal period in the late 1980s, Beattie has implemented simple motifs which have become a resource of infinite possibility. Beattie's triumphant use of a simple pictogram communicates not only an image from the real world but a profound experience. Referring to the 'thing but only loosely,' Beattie's paintings reveal what can be seen - the visible image, and what cannot - the field of energy which makes a painting potent. The latter speaks to a heritage of formal abstraction: the experiential, immediacy, physicality and scale of a painting remains at the forefront. The paintings mark a confluence of language and process. Beattie's paintings communicate a psychological state, 'The artist's inner life is encoded in the movement and substance of the paint.'[1]
This exhibition highlights one of Beattie's most enduring elements of his practice - stairs, steps, ladders and blocks. The artist's many manifestations of the stacked shape is both a painterly and philosophical project. Each rudimentary architectural element has individual characteristics which remain intriguingly familiar. The dynamic diagonal form divides the picture plane, as the eye travels from one corner to the other, implying journeys, progress and movement. However, in Beattie's paintings the stairs do not go anywhere, often stopping mid-air, the steps occupy an in-between. Obsessive repetition and variation of the emblematic steps has become a metaphorical vehicle, often reflected in the titles, as a mental link to another space.
Drawings remain a key foundation of Beattie's practice, manifesting what it is like to be inside his mind. In 1991, Beattie had a 'summer of drawing' leading up to a solo presentation at Eagle Gallery, London which marked a critical development of distinct expression. These drawings have been a resource he has mined ever since.[2] Drawings have been presented in many ways over the years, from covering an entire gallery space to stacked one on top of the other in a towering display. In exhibiting the works on paper together in Recalling Echoes, visual and cerebral connections transpire in new and exciting ways.
Beattie's work has been featured in numerous exhibitions at prestigious institutions, including solo shows at Tate Britain, London, UK; Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK; Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK; Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, UK; IKON Gallery, Birmingham, UK; Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, UK; Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK; and Goldsmiths Gallery, London, UK. His works have been included in critical group exhibitions at the Barbican Centre, London, UK; Camden Arts Centre, London, UK as well as the Jerwood Painting Prize 1998 and 2001 at Jerwood Gallery, London, UK; and Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, UK; and John Moores Painting Prize exhibition in 2015, 2016 and 2017 at Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK. Beattie's work can be found in numerous public and private collections including: Arts Council England; Tate collections; Contemporary Art Society; Deutsche Bank; Government Art Collection; NatWest Group Art; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; Royal Academy Collection; and the Jerwood Collection, all UK. 

[1] Moorhouse, P. Basil Beattie, Taking Steps, Large Works 1986-2009, 2011, ArtNews Contemporary Art, p58

[2] De Ville, N., When Now Becomes Then: Three Decades, 2016, London: Hales, p5

Installation Views