23 JUNE 1973, Page 23


Personalised painting

Evan Anthony

If in future exhibitions Diane Hills maintains the level of intensity, vulgarity and theatricality that in forms her present and first onewoman show at the Thackeray Gallery, Kensington Square, she could become the David Bowie of the art world. There is a distinct and distinctive absence of 'good taste' in her paintings, and she has obviouslywhipped herself into a frenzy of activity to produce these lushly coloured pictures. Like the girl in the red shoes who just had to keep dancing or be doomed, Miss Hills owns brushes that won't let her rest.

As a collection, the canvases bring to mind arenas where ideas have been fed to the paint box, some barely survive, others triumph, and there are those that have been mauled to death. Diane is herself the centrepiece of her pictures — Diane the young, pretty (almost) innocent; Diane the temptress; Diane the schizoid personality; Diane the devourer; etc. With fragments of sculpture, tigers and, of course, father figures to keep her company, she is usually surrounded by a dense under and overgrowth that would defy the most powerful of mowing machines. It is an outrageously manic performance that ought not to be missed. Also not to be missed is William Delafield Cook's second show at the Redfern Gallery, Cork Street. Cook is a cool, consummate artist, and this new exhibition is no disappointment. He continues working in much the same vein as two years ago, but as a major minor he manages to avoid seeming repetitious. There is a touch more of colour than usual, but the black conte crayon drawings are the pictures that really knock me out. Cook could be considered a photo-surrealist — his impeccable draughtsmanship doesn't miss a fold or grain. Have a look at the three cabbages on strings, suspended and weightless, more elegant than cabbages have a right to be.

It is the atmosphere in Cook's pictures that is so special; a kind of stillness is depicted that is difficult to describe. It is as though he has chosen to paint or draw he moment the world stopped. They are intriguingly eerie pictures that soon become quite beautiful; you grow accustomed to the space.

I am not all that mad about the Emilio Greco exhibition at Roland, Browse and Delbanco, Cork Street, despite all the grandiose claims made on his behalf in the catalogue. Is he "one of the two Italian masters of contemporary figurative sculpture "? It does seem an overstatement to read that, "There is no artist in this age who can compete with him in the depiction of the beauty and youth of womanhood" when faced with his slick and superficial collection of drawings and sculpture. There is no quarrelling with Greco's skill, but the sculptures in the present show look like so many fountains, and together with the drawings we have a collection of rather soulless naked ladies, lacking in warmth and personality.

At the Marlborough Fine Art, Albemarle Street, there is a mouth-watering collection of Selected European Masters, including the Brancusi bird Maiastra purchased by the Tate. ,The Bacons aren't for sale, but there are enough other modern masters to be tempted by.