Internationally recognized for her unmistakable and vibrant canvases and for a mural work brimming with color and vitality, her talent has been recognized with numerous exhibitions including solo shows at Tate Britain and in museums and galleries around the world. Nominated for the Turner Prize in 1989 and made a Fellow of the British Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1991, she was the only artist to participate in the famous Situation exhibition in London in 1960, alongside artists such as Bernard Cohen, Peter Poviello, Robin Denny and John Epstein.
In Ayres own words, I see nature like paint and that is why her paintings are reminiscent of the landscapes that marked her life. From Wales to Devon, without forgetting the greenery of Egypt and the sun of India, her taste for organic elements translates into a rich iconography populated with lichens, corals, seaweed, shells, feathers and brightly colored flowers. Influenced by painters such as Gauguin, Miró, Van Gogh or Rubens, her paintings show a vigorous technique based on the potential of pigments and the prominence of color and matter. With a tendency to create huge improvised canvases on the floor and thick brushstrokes, her ever-changing style is reminiscent of Action Painting and experimental art.
As she herself reported, I ran away from school when I was 16 really, I insisted on going to art school, and although at that time there was a certain reticence to the idea of a woman becoming an artist, Gillian was not intimidated and threw herself into the unknown. A courageous and feminist attitude that she retained throughout her life and that can be seen in both her painting and her biography.
Her most recent solo exhibitions include: Gillian Ayres, Marlborough Gallery (London, 2021), I See Nature Like Paint: Gillian Ayres: Paintings 1972-83, Mark Rothko Art Centre (Daugavpils, Latvia, 2019), PIFO Gallery (Beijing, 2018), Sailing off the Edge: Gillian Ayres Abstract Painting, Past to Present, CAFA Art Museum (Beijing, 2017), Gillian Ayres: Retrospective Exhibition, National Museum Wales in Cardiff and Alan Cristea Gallery (London, 2017), Gillian Ayres: New Paintings and Prints, Alan Cristea Gallery (London, 2015), Gillian Ayres: Works on Paper 1990-2011, Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (Exeter, United Kingdom, 2012), Solo Room, Tate Britain (London, United Kingdom, 2010 and 1995), Gillian Ayres, Academy of Arts in London, Yale Centre for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut, and Iowa University Museum, United States (1997) and Solo British Representative, Seventh-Triennale-India (Juipur, India, 1991).
Her work is also present in numerous public collections around the world, among which we can mention: Arts Council of England (London, United Kingdom), Ashmolean Museum of Art (Oxford, United Kingdom), Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst (Oslo, Norway), British Museum (London, United Kingdom), Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing, China), Centre National dArt et de Culture Georges Pompidou (Paris, France), Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, Ohio, United States), Hamburger Kunsthalle (Hamburg, Germany), Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, Missouri, United States), Kunstmuseum (Dusseldorf, Germany), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (United States), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebaek, Denmark), Metropolitan Museum of Art New York (United States), Museum of Modern Art (New York, United States), Museum of Modern Art (Brasilia, Brazil), Nationalgalerie Staatliche Museen (Berlin, Germany), National Portrait Gallery (London, United Kingdom), Orange County Museum of Art (Newport Beach, California, United States), Royal Academy of Arts (London, United Kingdom), Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Edimburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Tate Gallery (London, United Kingdom), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, United States), Whitworth Art Gallery (Manchester, United Kingdom) and Yale Center for British Art (New Haven, Connecticut, United States).