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WRITER: BRIAN SHAWVER
CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
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Release: Immediate

Museum of Art will show colorful paintings of British artist Gillian Ayres

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Museum of Art will exhibit the colorful paintings of British artist Gillian Ayres Nov. 15 through Feb. 8 in the North and East Galleries of the museum.

The exhibition will be open to the public free of charge.

Ayres will visit the UI campus during the exhibition and hold a conversation with Pamela Trimpe, assistant director and curator of painting and sculpture at the UI Museum of Art at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20 in the museum. This talk, which will be free and open to the public, will be followed by a public reception for the artist. Ayres will also meet with students from the UI School of Art and Art History during her visit.

The museum will exhibit 15 of Ayres' recent works, painted between 1978 and 1996. Currently touring the United States, this exhibition -- organized by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and circulated by Dadart, London -- offers the first major view of her work in America.

Ayres' paintings, influenced in part by European post-war abstraction and American abstract expressionism, are characterized by their vibrancy and use of color. Forsaking traditional landscapes and portraits, Ayres' work is filled with abstract shapes and symbols, and is concerned with the substance and texture of paint itself.

Ayres paints quickly and energetically, coating the canvas with dense layers of paint, then assessing and analyzing her work over long periods of time. Although her earlier work was done mostly in acrylics, in the late 1970s she switched to oil based paints.

Trimpe said, "This exhibition and Ayres' gallery talk represent unique opportunities for the public to meet and become acquainted with the works of an important living British artist. Ayres is an engaging and genuine person who communicates her artistic ideals clearly and passionately."

Ayres was born in London in 1930 and was trained at the Camberwell School of Art 1946-50. She has taught at the Bath Academy at Corsham and at St. Martin's School of Art in London. In 1978 she was named head of painting at the Winchester School of Art, becoming the first woman to run an art-college painting department.

Since 1981 Ayres has dedicated herself full time to painting, living in North Wales and in Cornwall. She was elected a member of the Royal Academy of Art in 1982, and in 1986 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire.

In 1990, at the invitation of the British Council, Ayres spent several weeks traveling and painting in India. A year later she returned as the sole British representative in the Seventh Indian Triennale, an international contemporary art exhibition.

Ayre's paintings have been included in several prestigious group exhibitions, including the Royal Academy's "British Art in the 20th Century" in 1987. She has works in the Manchester City Art Gallery, the Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The current exhibition and the artist's visit to Iowa are sponsored by the British Council and, at the UI, the painting and drawing department of the School of Art and Art History, International Programs, the Council on the Status of Women, the Women's Resource and Action Center and Associated University Women.

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots across from the museum on Riverside Drive, and adjacent to the UI Alumni Center, which is just north of the museum.

11/7/97