Newport Street Gallery in Lambeth was originally a terrace comprising several buildings – purpose built as theatre scenery workshops. Now this newly-converted space, occupying an entire section of the street, is flooded with natural light and will be ome to a rolling exhibition programme of Damien Hirst’s own collection.
Damien Hirst built his early career on curated exhibitions; it was curating that defined him as the trailblazer of the early YBA scene, initially as an art student taking over warehouses, which lead to an invitation to curate the seminal Some Went Mad Some Ran Away at the Serpentine. The following year he was awarded the Turner Prize, partly on the back of this Serpentine show.
Lots of artists curate shows, and themselves into them; it’s a DIY way to place their work in a self-devised context. Hirst did it in a special way; he was incredibly professional, meticulous and the exhibitions were exciting. He was also a PR dream – summing up ideas in sound bites that made contemporary art seem popular and accessible without diluting the concepts behind the work. Perhaps the most interesting element of Hirst’s shows were that they felt like an extension of his own work; he would often describe his approach to curating as being similar to making a physical collage that you walk through.
Other Criteria (Hirst’s ‘shop’) has been putting on small exhibitions of artists’ work since they opened their first store (on Bond Street in 2008), but the Newport Street Gallery operates on a much larger scale, and will show work from Hirst’s vast personal collection. The building has been designed by the obligatory name-drop architect, Caruso St John, and will also house a shop and restaurant (designed by Hirst); it will be a destination venue, to say the least.
Newport Street launches with Power Stations, a solo show of paintings (ranging from 1964 to 1982) by the late John Hoyland. Like Hirst, Hoyland incited his fair share of art-world controversy, as he took abstract painting in a new direction with his bold use of colour and texture. Hirst was introduced to Hoyland by the writer Gordon Burn and has described him as “easily the greatest British abstract painter.” Hirst is clearly starting as hemeans to go on.
– Gemma de Cruz