This summer the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague is using its Projects Gallery to present work by English artist Alan Uglow (b. 1941, Luton). Uglow stands firmly in the geometrical tradition of abstract art that runs from Piet Mondrian through the American colour field painters. Within that historical context, Uglow has given the geometrical approach a highly individual twist, producing work in which the main focus is on fields and flatness, order and structure.
Uglow moved to America in the late 1960s, at a time when Minimalist artists like Brice Marden, Donald Judd and Robert Ryman were all the rage. He met the Godfather of Abstract Expressionism, Barnett Newmann, and read the work of critic Clement Greenberg. Now, more than thirty years on, his work still stands in the tradition of these artists. But Uglow has taken their approach and given it his own highly individual and contemporary twist. For example, the large canvases in his Standards series are clearly a variation on the New York School approach of the 1960s but, instead of hanging them on the wall, Uglow leans them up against it. In the same series, Uglow has achieved strange effects by photographing one of his paintings from a particular angle, screenprinting the photographic image onto linen and exhibiting the result alongside the original work.
His tightly outlined monochrome fields look clear and simple. But although the artist strives for pure abstraction, he has an ambiguous attitude to the visible world, drawing his inspiration from such everyday sources as pages of newspaper job adverts or the way football pitches are depicted on television. In every case he is interested only in such formal principles as order and structure: the serenity of his canvases is far removed from the hurlyburly of popular sport.
The Projects Gallery is a space used to give artists the opportunity to respond to the Berlage building, the Gemeentemuseum’ s collections and art in general. Uglow follows in the footsteps of artists like Jürgen Partenheimer, Günther Tuzina, Daan van Golden, Gabriël Lester and Wouter van Riessen. The projects differ from normal retrospectives in that the artist is given a completely free hand to make an artistic statement without the intervention of a museum curator.