My friend, the artist Gerry Smith, is organising an exhibition in Ostend of Belgian and British artists, both living and dead. The venue for the work he is putting on display is the whole ground floor of a big, modern hotel on the sea-front beside the casino. It’s got lots of interesting spaces to show different work in, changes of floor level, lots of corners, longer and shorter walls narrowing and widening into corridors and foyer areas between the entrances, reception, bar, restaurant and main staircase.
It’s a lot of work for Gerry at very short notice, but so far so good, he’s excited and it’s coming together nicely. Its opening is timed to coincide with Ostend’s annual Mueum Night, on Feb. 14., Valentine’s day, when all the art galleries in the town are open till eleven o’clock or midnight. He was alerted by another friend of ours, Patty Vermeersch, a couple of months back when she said that she had found a place for his exhibition, only that he had to decide soon if he wanted to go ahead with it because all the info and publicity for the Musuem Night was shortly going to press.
What the exhibition is, is the work of a collection of artists, friends of his or dead important ones, that Gerry admires, which he has grouped around themes connected to “outdoors”. He has made this type of exhibition before at Danielle Arnaud, his gallery in London, bringing together artists with different work, when it was his turn for a solo show. Instead of of the usual thing of simply installing one’s own painting at such an opportunity, he decided instead to curate a show of art he would like to see in conversation with his own painting and also have fun putting it all together. Which he does really well, installing a lot of stuff without it seeming crowded or packed, with elegant and stylish aplomb.
My part in this exhibition is connected to my association with Ostend, where I met Gerry for the first time. For ten years I exhibited once or twice a year at Galerie Dialoog, of which Jose Tavernier and Patty Vermeersch were directors, until Jose retired and they moved South to Montrejeau on the French side of the Pyrenees. Patty retains an involvement with some of the artists of the gallery. Gerry has picked out a few things of mine to put towards the exhibition. I’ll talk about each of them in more detail later but to list ’em first, they are:
Ostend calender 2000
Outdoor, plein aire painting – Boats, Low Tide, Mersea Island – oil on canvas
Pencil sketch – Ex-Ostend Fishing Boat, Mersea Island
Sound piece – Drawing on the Radio
Dubbed postcards – Dreaming Istanbul