Art Review: Rose Wylie, Serpentine Galleries ‘Glorious Collision of Images and Colours’


The Serpentine has filled its Sackler Gallery with as many of Rose’s glorious canvases as it can. Its walls brim with colours and a fantastic array of images clipped from books, TV and films, as well as shards of Rose’s memories over her previous eighty-four years. And the result is fantastic. You are swept up by its energy – wonderfully overwhelmed with the incredible array of figures, animals and scenes – and it gets you thinking, how is it that this is Rose’s first ever institutional solo exhibition in the UK?

The path Rose has had to walk to acclaim is well-documented – a career temporarily halted in its infancy, sacrificed in favour of a marriage and raising children, finally found itself in full swing when Rose hit her seventies. Now, we can’t get enough of her boisterous work – bright, curious and almost always large, they transport you but also slice up our society’s obsession with ever increasing amounts of data.

So, huge thanks to the Serpentine for hosting this and, please, let me encourage as many of you to go for a wander up past the lake and through the park to the Sackler Gallery in Hyde Park, for the result is worth it. Such an uplifting show, and long overdue.

This particular exhibition Rose has named, “Quack Quack”, with the works curated together largely focused on Kensington – memories from her childhood there during the Blitz (maps of the area covered with fighter planes and bombs falling from the sky), and observations of the Park today, with migrants on park benches, ducks on the pond, and dogs running around.

But there’s more too, with paintings of clipped scenes from Tarantino’s bloody Kill Bill hanging near a delightful scene of two women playing tennis in the sunshine, and an irreverent anatomy map of a horse alongside a scene of a couple salsa-ing in Cuba, which are opposite paintings of cut-out paper dolls and Queen Elizabeth I.

I loved this show. If you’ve heard of Rose Wylie but are not entirely familiar with her work, this is a fantastic introduction, with such a range of subject matter. And if, like me, you are a fan already, well, what more can I say. This is a complete treat.

Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London, to February 11, 2018
Admission free.

All installation images by Mike Din.

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