The Spray Gun And The Cosmos
February 29th - April 12th 2008
Opening and gallery launch:
28th February, 6.30pm – 8.30pm
A lost collection of fifteen spray-gun paintings by John Latham (1921 – 2006) is to be exhibited publicly for the first time in fifty years. The works, all from the 1950s, will form the inaugural exhibition at Delaye Saltoun, a new London gallery focusing on Post War British and international art.
John Latham has become increasingly recognized as one of the most radical and influential British artists of the second half of the 20th century. Belonging to no specific movement, Latham opened a vast range of possibilities to the British avant-garde. He achieved notoriety for his work Still and Chew ( coll. Moma, New York), which involved chewing, spitting and subsequently distilling a seminal book on art theory by the critic Clement Greenberg. His influence on the subsequent generation of artists, from Richard Hamilton to the YBA’s is considerable and he has been consistently acknowledged as a father figure to the current avant-garde.
Latham’s practice was highly experimental; he was an artist fascinated by the fusion of science with artistic intuition. Central to Latham’s work of the 1950s was the theory that the most basic component of reality is not the particle (as stated in classical physics), but the least-event, defined as a fundamental unit of time, representing state zero for the cosmos and for painting. Producing a single burst of dots on a white surface, his spray-gun paintings function as a visible description of this theory.
Latham called his spray-gun paintings ‘process sculpture’. They form the genesis of his later work and define his visual language. As a body of work their radicalism is demonstrated by what is considered to be the first use of the spray-gun in fine art. These paintings led ultimately to the one-second drawings of the 1970s. This exhibition showcases a hugely innovative and significant body of work that is yet to be properly examined.
This collection of 15 paintings was first exhibited in the mid-fifties at the Obelisk Gallery in London. They were subsequently sold at the Six Bells pub in Chelsea in the late 60’s and have not been seen since.
This will be the first London exhibition since Latham’s controversial display at Tate Britain in 2005 and the first since the artist’s death.