Bob Law: Field Works 1959–1999

9 October–7 November 2015
Thomas Dane Gallery, London (in association with Karsten Schubert)

Thomas Dane Gallery – in association with Richard Saltoun and Karsten Schubert – is pleased to present an exhibition of works by Bob Law (1934-2004), spanning four decades.

During Bob Law's stay in St Ives in the late 1950s, the British artist worked intently on a series of Field drawings, which reduced elements observed in the surrounding landscape - the sun, trees and clouds - into a set of abstract signs. In each work, the carefully positioned icons are contained within a single rhomboid frame and dated, illustrating Law's exploration of line to convey space and mark time.


The Field drawings were, for Law, 'about the position of myself on the face of the earth and the environmental conditions around me […] I was finding myself, and the map that went with myself. I was transcribing it graphically into charts'.

Using these first mature works as a starting point, this exhibition focuses on how Law refined his abstract language in subsequent drawings and paintings throughout his career. Characterised by a near-blank pictorial field delimited by a thickly drawn line, Law simultaneously produced two groups of works during the 1960s that explored the play between darkness and lightness: the densely coloured 'closed' drawings and the sparse 'open' drawings.

Developing ideas first executed in drawing, Law's paintings share similar concerns. In Metaphysical Fantasy No.10 (1960), for example, Law reworks the line in paint and fills the frame with thick black paint. Whilst in Mister Paranoia IV 20.11.70 (No. 95) (1970), the irregular rhomboid frame seen in the early Field drawings is rendered on a monumental scale. As Douglas Fogle writes in the exhibition catalogue, the expansive dimensions of this work suggests 'not so much a painting as a portal that could physically engulf the viewer, offering a passage to another space, time or dimension.'

Presenting a concise overview of the artist's career, the show closes with a selection of large Castle paintings (1976-80) as well as two bodies of later drawings from 1995 and 1999, in which Law alters the proportion of the line to test ideas of the void and negative space.

A fully illustrated catalogue, published by Ridinghouse, accompanies the exhibition. It also includes new scholarship by Douglas Fogle, an independent curator and writer, on the relationship between Law's work and his American contemporaries.


Further information can be found at Thomas Dane Gallery.


Thomas Dane Gallery

3 Duke Street, St James's

London SW1Y 6BN [map]