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Founded in 1979, October Gallery, in central London, exhibits innovative, contemporary art from around the world. For over 35 years, October Gallery has pioneered the development of the Transvangarde - the trans-cultural avant-garde.
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Press Releases

AUBREY WILLIAMS: Realm of the Sun
8 October – 21 November 2015

October Gallery, London, will present an exhibition by Aubrey Williams, introducing works previously unseen.

Aubrey Williams' distinctive contribution to 20th century British art as a master of painterly abstraction is increasingly recognized; a contemporary of Alan Davie and Peter Lanyon, Williams’ work invites productive comparison but has yet to receive comparable attention.

Born in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1926, Williams’ early training as an agronomist took him to the north-west rainforest where he lived for two years among the indigenous Warrau people.  This proved to be a formative period of his life in which he, as he later said, 'started to understand what art really is.'

Arriving in London in 1952, ostensibly for further studies in agriculture, Williams soon enrolled at St. Martin’s School of Art.  Meanwhile he travelled widely in Europe so as to examine the core works of Western modernist painting.  Two exhibitions from the USA in London during the 1950s viewed by Williams, introduced him to Abstract Impressionism.  In the paintings of Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko he saw novel strategies of scale, technique and colour that he inscribed into his own richly allusive abstractions.  From the early 1960s, Williams exhibited widely, winning awards and garnering high acclaim from a London art circuit impressed by what Guy Brett has called 'the heady interface between artistic innovation and trans-nationalism'.

Williams was an integral part of the explosion of creativity and optimism amongst Caribbean writers, artists and intellectuals in London at the time. This cultural ferment was exemplified in the Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM), established in 1966. Williams was a founder member of CAM and participated fully in its activities.

During the 1980s, in an astonishing and sustained burst of renewed creativity, Williams made three series of large paintings which are now regarded as his supreme, defining achievement.  In the Shostakovich series, 30 paintings express his passionate engagement with the Russian composer’s symphonies and string quartets. In The Olmec-Maya and Now series, prompted by Williams’ increasing environmental concerns, he broke new ground.  Drawing on his deep knowledge of Pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica, he unexpectedly merges representational elements with painterly abstractions. Williams’ Cosmos series reflects his lifelong absorption in astronomy.  He worked figuratively throughout his life: in portraits, landscapes and, especially, well-researched depictions of endangered tropical birds.

In the 25 years since Aubrey Williams’ death (1990), his work has been exhibited in a wide range of contexts and institutions, in addition to important solo exhibitions. The Whitechapel Art Gallery’s major retrospective, in 1998, was followed by a room display and accompanying Study Day at Tate Britain in 2007 and then more significant exhibitions in Liverpool and London in 2010.  Further acquisitions of paintings by Tate, and material for its Archive, have enabled ever-growing recognition of Williams’s unique place in British art history.  In April 2014, a symposium on his work was held at Cambridge University. This reaffirmed Williams’ position as an exceptional visionary whose work foreshadowed ecological fears which become ever more urgent. 


Aubrey Williams’ work will be displayed withinTate Britain’s new exhibition Artist and Empire, which will open from the 25th of November 2015.This exhibition will be the first major presentation of the art associated with the British Empire from the sixteenth century to the present day. Bringing together extraordinary and unexpected artworks from UK collections, both public and private, it will explore how diverse artists around the world responded to the experience of empire.

Please contact Alana Pryce Tojcic if you would like images or further information

Download full press release as Word Doc   

Brion Gysin: Unseen Collaborator
2nd July – 3rd October 2015

October Gallery, London is pleased to present Unseen Collaborator, a solo exhibition of works by the artist Brion Gysin. The exhibition will feature several unseen paintings 1950-1985, including his Sahara phase, Marrakech crowd scenes, permutations and cutups, calligraphy and grid pieces, an architectural photograph, and a Dreamachine. Neo-calligrapher, master of line, multimedia revolutionary and cultural historian, Gysin’s experiences in New York, Tangier, Paris and London influenced his seminal artistic productions. William S. Burroughs called Gysin, ‘the only man I truly respect’.
Also included are a rarely-shown film of a solo performance, Les Diables de Brion, (Brion’s Devils) by Francoise Janicot; exhibition soundscape produced by Bill Laswell with the Master Musicians of Jajouka; collaborative media with William S. Burroughs and Anthony Balch; sound poetry; and music with jazzman Steve Lacy.

Brion Gysin, (1916 – 1986) was born in Taplow, England and in 1934 went to study at the Sorbonne, Paris. Gysin’s first exhibition was in Paris in 1935, a group show of Surrealist drawings with Picasso, Dali, Ernst, Magritte, Man Ray and others. His name is in the catalogue but his work was taken down during the opening by Paul Eluard at the order of André Breton, presumably for ‘deviationism’ and lese majestie towards Breton. In 1939, he had a one man show at the same gallery and left that year for New York, where he worked on Broadway, in shipyards, and met Paul Bowles, who invited him to Tangier. His journey to the Algerian Sahara influenced his work greatly. Gysin was a multifaceted artist whose fertile mind and wide range of original ideas were a source of inspiration for artists of the Beat Generation in Paris.

Unseen Collaborator refers to the concept Gysin developed with Burroughs, Third Mind. In an intense collaboration, a third entity appears, the ‘mind’ of the collaboration itself- almost like progeny. Gysin worked with collaborators to deconstruct assumptions of perception. Alfred Korzybski, the inventor of general semantics, called humanity the ‘time-binding’ animal. Gysin and Burroughs worked to make visible the unseen arrow of time that biology presents to us, which, post-Einstein, they considered to be illusion; Human perception- temporal truths, fixations and obsessions, play, jokes, ambiguous pronouncements, inspirational sparks, alternate histories- all were the fuel for Gysin’s inventions.

Gysin is remembered particularly for his evocative paintings of the North African desert in the 1950s and his original calligraphic abstractions based on his knowledge of Japanese and Arabic scripts. A radical cultural visionary, visual artist, writer and performer, Gysin introduced his close friend, writer William S. Burroughs, to the techniques of "cut-ups" and "permutation".  Together, they experimented in sound and image, using collage, tape recorder, light-painting, writing and film.   They co-authored Third Mind,the term they used for such creative collaboration. Their work has had a pervasive influence in the arts and on underground and popular culture, affecting figures such as David Bowie, Patti Smith, Bill Laswell, Keith Haring, Michael Stipe, and Genesis P. Orridge.

October Gallery was the first in the UK to show Gysin's work with a solo exhibition in 1981, and his magnum opus, Calligraffiti of Fire, in 2008. Brion Gysin’s first US retrospective exhibition was held at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, in June 2010.


Please contact Alana Pryce Tojcic if you would like images or further information

Download full press release as Word Doc   

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Memorable Press From Around the Web

El Anatsui


Romuald Hazoumè


Rachid Koraïchi


Ablade Glover


Gérard Quenum

October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AL Tel: + 44 (0)20 7242 7367 Fax: + 44 (0)20 7405 1851