acrylic on canvas
84 x 120 in / 213.4 x 304.8 cm
Courtesy of Gimpel Fils, London
26 July - 1 September 2012
On the eve of his ninetieth birthday, Gimpel Fils are holding an exhibition of Albert Irvin's paintings. Irvin has chosen Fidelio as the title, for a number of reasons. There is his fidelity to abstraction, a consistent abstraction in which, over the decades, the artist has been careful to eschew figuration in any form. A S Byatt observed in a text on the artist, 'It is art about experiencing the world', adding, about the paintings' titles 'They are both arbitrary and not, a kind of notation of his life, street-names of London where his studio is... which have a resonance of their own'. Irvin has often referred to the grounding of his practice in the material circumstances of his own life. In an interview given in Dublin, Irvin said : "I don't want to depict or describe appearances - I want to make a kind of painting that is about the world rather than of it."
Fidelio is a musical evocation, echoing Albert Irvin's love for and great knowledge of the classics. Synthesising the proximity of music to painting, Irvin comments: "Music brought me to the realisation that it was possible to say what it feels like to be a human being without having to paint noses and feet."
Both Irvin and his wife Betty are ninety this year. Fidelio extends to the mutual act of professional committment that this inseparable couple have displayed over the decades. Then there is the fidelity which the artist has shown his gallery, as we celebrate 30 years of working together.
Accompanying the exhibition is a fully illustrated catalogue with a text by Paul Moorhouse.
Albert Irvin RA was born in 1922 in London, where he continues to live and work. In the early 1940's, Irvin attended Northampton School of Art. His studies were interrupted when he was called up, serving as a navigator in the Royal Air Force during the war. After being discharged, he enrolled at Goldsmiths College in London. Much later, in 1962, Irvin returned to Goldsmiths, where he taught for twenty years. Irvin has exhibited extensively throughout Europe and in Australia. His works are in many public collections, including The Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney; the British Council; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Manchester City Art Gallery; Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
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