Unbound: Possibilities in Painting

Hayward Gallery

Hayward Gallery, 3 March – 30 May 1994

Unbound: Possibilities in Painting was curated by Adrian Searle, art critic and painter, and the Hayward Gallery’s Greg Hilton. The exhibition – intended as a ‘strong and provocative account of ... painting today’ – featured 14 international artists who were each taking painting in radical new directions.

The 14 international artists involved in the exhibition were: Juan Davila, Peter Doig, Gary Hume, Zebedee Jones, Raoul De Keyser, Imi Knoebel, Michael Krebber, Jonathan Lasker, Olivier Mosset, Fiona Rae, Paula Rego, Julião Sarmento, Jessica Stockholder and Luc Tuymans.

In the guide to the exhibition, Searle and Hilty summarised Unbound as: ‘An exhibition about painting’ which – encompassing wide range of styles and approaches – ‘questions the language of painting, and what its limits and boundaries are.’

According to Searle and Hilty, each of the artists in Unbound were concerned with the degree to which painting could ‘remain meaningful in a world already full of images.’ The exhibition, which took place across both floors of the Hayward Gallery, was accompanied by Salvador Dalí: The Early Years in gallery 1.

Exhibition guide Unbound: Possibilities in Painting.

Internal memo about early ideas for a painting show at Hayward Gallery.

One of the first works that visitors encountered in Unbound was a painting-cum-sculpture by the American artist Jessica Stockholder. Fat Form and Hairy: Sardine Can Peeling (1994) consisted of a hole cut into one of the false walls that clad the gallery’s concrete structure.

To Searle, the piece functioned as a ‘literal window, an installation which turns the pictorial space of painting into a material fact.’

Elsewhere in the exhibition, visitors encountered diverse works including Paula Rego’s The Artist in Her Studio (1993), and Belgium artist Raoul de Keyser’s subtle geometric abstractions.

Private view invitation.

Unbound: Possibilities in Painting received 106,000 visitors. Henry Meyric Hughes, the then Director of Hayward Gallery, summarised the reviews as ‘genuinely mixed ... with opinions varying from rapture to studied neglect to outright condemnation.’ Tim Hilton argued that the exhibition was just like its curator:‘genuinely art-loving, curious about anything that comes its way, debonair and elusive’.

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