Seventeen – Gabriel Hartley: Skies

Gabriel Hartley, It never entered my Mind, 2022, 65 x 53cm, © The Artist, Image Courtesy of Seventeen Gallery London

6 May – 25 June, 2022

Private View: 15 May: 11-6PM

Gabriel Hartley is a modernist painter in the 21st century. Let’s wheel back for a second. Western modernism movement daddy Clement Greenberg’s version of events has the whole journey of painting climaxing in the 1940s, in tingling apotheosis, with abstract expressionism. Centuries of painting, according to this one guy, had brought us to a moment of empirical, elemental clarity about what the medium is supposed to be and do. The exciting, retrospectively way-too-much central idea of Greenbergian modernism was that painting had reached its ultimate form, its final evolved state, like a saint, or a Pokémon. And this was, at first, a macho American story, of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline and Willem De Kooning, the destiny of white men arriving at their journey’s end. Once everybody realised this was a goofy, incorrect idea, modernism then yielded and fragmented, in Morris Louis and Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler and Sam Gilliam and Ellsworth Kelly and Tsuyoshi Maekawa and Jean Dubuffet and Lee Ufan, to better reflect a discussion that was moving past the idea of the painter as heroic conqueror. Modernism entered a decade of experimentation and openness to multiple histories, not just one, and a collective resolve to keep the conversation about painting — specifically painting — in progress. In fact, this movement was in full flow, in the middle of its next evolution, when pop happened. And conceptualism happened. And post-studio happened. And nothing was the same.

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