Nick Hackworth

Christopher Bucklow & William Blake/I Will Save Your Life

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

Though at one time in the Nineties he was regarded as a Young British Artist, Christopher Bucklow has always stood apart from that group by dint of the intellectual breadth and curiosity in his work.

In his latest exhibition, I Will Save Your Life, Bucklow is showing his work alongside a series of etchings by William Blake. The comparison we are invited to make is that Bucklow’s art, like Blake’s, is the product of a systematic investigation of the self and that the individual works are part of an ongoing project. The major pieces, many inspired by his recent residency at the British Museum — during which he underwent psychoanalysis — are dense and fantastical charcoal and pastel drawings, the surfaces of which are occasionally violated by slits in the canvas.

Representational and symbolic meanings fill the work. In The Birth of Jehovah, a large charcoal drawing on a purple background, personifications of aspects of the artist’s psyche struggle with each other. In other pieces, such as From This Time On, a different aesthetic takes over, with Bucklow smearing and dripping the paint over his figurative forms, recalling the surfaces of American abstract expressionism.

At the heart of the show is an odd drawing-cum-diary, All I Have Left of You is Me, in which concentric circles, each representing a year, emanate from the calculated moment of Bucklow’s conception. In the appropriate places, he has written in significant events and dreams, some of which have inspired the paintings and drawings here. Interestingly, though tangentially, the chart reveals that Bucklow’s dreams cluster in certain months, a previously unknown phenomenon that is now being taken up by researchers investigating dreams. Such an accidental by-product, the stimulus of further investigation, is a fitting tribute to a body of work that strives so unusually to unify aesthetic and intellectual quality.

Until 2 August. Information: 020 7439 0000.