The Systems Group Artists At Southampton City Art Gallery

By Narelle Doe | 22 January 2008
Abstract art made up of bold triangles in blue and green.

Triangles in a Dodecahedron by Peter Lowe, 2000.

Exhibition Preview - A Rational Aesthetic - the Systems Group at Southampton City Art Gallery Runs until Sunday March 30 2008.

It is a sad fact that while the reputations of British Systems’ artists are held in high esteem in Europe, their achievements have been long ignored by elements of the UK art establishment.

Southampton City Art Gallery is hoping to redress this balance and stimulate a resurgent interest in this distinctive approach to abstract art with their exhibition, A Rational Aesthetic: The Systems Group & Associated Artists,

Opened by Frank Whitford, Sunday Times Art Critic, the exhibition is the first major art show devoted entirely to the work of the 1970s Systems Group and associated artists since 1978.

Abstract art made up of different coloured stripes.

Double Unit Prime Number B2 by Malcolm Hughes, 1980/81.

The Systems Group was founded by Malcolm Hughes and Jeffrey Steele in 1970. Their creative vision brought together a collection of artists whose approach to abstract art was based on the conception of the object being constructed from a vocabulary of basic geometric elements in accordance with some form of pre-determined and often mathematical system.

Their paintings appeal to the mind, as well as to the eye, and shows fine qualities of precision, clarity of form and rationality of process in their creation.

Abstract art made up of monochrome patterns.

Y Cynilwyn by Jeffrey Steele, 1964.

The core of the exhibition shows work from the mid 1960s to the end of the 1970s, when the group dissolved. A highlight of the show is artwork by Kenneth and Mary Martin who both used pre-determined constructional systems in their paintings and reliefs, and tutored students who later became Systems Group members.

Also featured is work produced in the 1990s through to the present day by artists such as Peter Lowe and Jeffrey Steele. The younger generation is represented by Trevor Clarke and Steve Sproates, demonstrating that the production of rational constructive art did not die out in the 1970s but has continued into the 21st century.

This is an exhibition preview – have you visited this show? If so, why not tell us what you think?

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