Gillian Ayres

13 September - 15 November 2018

PIFO Gallery is pleased to present the distinguished English abstract artist Gillian Ayres ’ (1930-2018) first gallery exhibition in Asia. Gillian Ayres is best known for abstract painting and printmaking using vibrant colors, which earned her a Turner Prize nomination as one of the world’s greatest female abstract artists. In 2017 she had a large-scale exhibition at CAFA Art Museum in Beijing.




As a pioneer of Tachisme (or Tachism, a style of non-geometric abstract popular in Europe after World War II), Gillian Ayres was greatly influenced by American Abstract Expressionism and subsequently created art in a lyrical variant of action painting. Resembling a cycle of incitement, bliss, amazement, and reversion, her lasting and thickly-textured brushstrokes in addition to the mottled and patterned colors, liberally showcased the intense and solemn internality, manifesting boundless energy and limitless imagination and reflection. 


Ayres’s artistic practice was influenced by western art masters such as Tiziano Vecelli, J. M. W. Turner , Oscar-Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Vincent Willem van Gogh. At the same time, having an open-minded attitude of getting inspired from diverse cultures and traditions all around the world, the artist favored oriental art, especially traditional Chinese paintings and Japanese ukiyo-e. From the late 1970s to 1980s, Ayres created a number of works known as “erotic, sublime paintings” which depict the encounter of the female body with nature and result in paintings full of whimsy color. However, the works from the 1990s are furnished with a sense of form throughout the pictures. Even though going either dynamic or stationary, the expressive forms and the visuals composed of symbolism of color constantly remain natural and picturesque all through. Ayres also attempted to go beyond one single dimensionality and push boundaries in all likelihood, manifesting how an artist could explore all the possibilities of pigment and painting through continued practicing. 


As the only Asian gallery that represents Gillian Ayres, PIFO Gallery will be exhibiting more than twenty large-scale, “thickly textured” oil paintings and acrylic paintings on paper. The selection of the artist’s rare paintings cover a representative cross section of Ayres’ paintings from the early stages in the 1970s to the later mature style after the year 2000 and gives a comprehensive overview over the artist’s practice in the context of art history’s imprint on her oeuvre from Tiziano Vecelli to Katsushika Hokusa.




Gillian Ayres was born in London in 1930, studied at Camberwell School of Art from 1945 to 1950. She was the only woman in the most important postwar exhibition of British art, ‘Situation’ (Royal Society of Arts) in 1960. In the nearly 30 years since her graduation, Ayres has held several teaching positions. She was the first female Head of Painting at a British art school in1978. She had a solo show at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art in 1981, and a Retrospective at the Serpentine in 1983. She was shortlisted for the prestigious Turner Prize in 1989, elected Royal Academician in 1991 and awarded an Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2011. She had a major retrospective of her work from the 1950s to the present day at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and her first solo exhibition in China at the CAFA Art Museum in Beijing in 2017. Gillian Ayres has paintings in the collections of major museums including MOMA New York and Tate London, Museum of Modern Art in Brasilia, National Gallery of Australia, British Museumin London and CAFA Art Museum in Beijing. She has exhibited widely from Britain to Europe, from India to the USA.