Not so very new, Damien Hirst’s enterprise opened in October and is 5 minutes from home so can’t think why I haven’t been before, definitely an interesting neighbour; the gallery is on one of those streets you find increasingly in London that seem to appear out of nowhere despite being 200 years old, tucked in between the river and Lambeth Walk and part of a very rapid development of the entire stretch between Nine Elms and Elephant. The building consists of renovated scene-painting studios and a brick extension by Caruso St John with their particular pared-back but highly refined architecture – somewhat at odds with the Hirst public persona? still, good use of a presumably generous budget and the proceeds of many skulls and butterflies.
The inaugural show is a collection of huge John Hoyland (1934-2011) canvasses that occupy two gallery floors; no notes or titles, just saturated and overlapping blocks of colour which are perfectly suited to the space and a make a substantial show. I read a scathing review on the inadequacies of the work, compared very poorly with the American abstract expressionists, but I loved it and will go back - it’s on for a few months, the gallery is free, and it’s virtually empty which means visiting is a pleasure and a rare opportunity to stand back and see.
Good article here by Oliver Wainwright on DH, the building and the area.
Rowan Moore in The Guardian as usual gets to the point in his review of the architects: A short distance from Hirst’s gallery is the junkheap of towers and desolate open spaces going up in Vauxhall. How much better it would be if it had some of the intelligence of a practice like this.
Site Newport Street Gallery / Architects Caruso St John / Artist John Hoyland