After 26 years in the art world Peter Notton is opening his first gallery in Marleybone. Kicking things off with a visceral exhibition of works by Scottish abstract and figurative painter Jamie Gallagher, Notton wants visitors to be moved, challenged and changed by what they see 

Words: Will Moffitt

Peter Notton likes to take his time with things. In a world ruled by dates, deadlines and pushy algorithms the art world veteran is an advocate for patience. “I don't like rushing into things. I don't think it's good to rush into things,” he says. Of course, there’s a difference between waiting cautiously and resting idly, as Notton knows only too well. When it open its doors this month, Notton Gallery will mark the culmination of 26 years worth of its founders’ creative endeavours.

Since a 10 year stint as studio manager at Pratt Contemporary, the prestigious fine art printing and publishing studio, specialising in digital and silkscreen processes to coordinating exhibitions at Mayfair’s world famous photography institution Hamiltons Gallery, Notton has acquired a wealth of experience and expertise in printmaking, artist books and mounting exhibitions.

Located on Seymour Place, Notton wants his new space to be a platform for some of the most exciting artists working in the UK today and to help bring their work to wider audiences. There will also be works for sale by famous names, including Andy Warhol, Frank Auerbach, Ed Ruscha and Banksy.

“There is a secondary market for core elements of the business as well. But the thing that interests me the most is working with living artists,” Notton explains. “I want people to come in and walk away feeling like they've experienced something unexpected, curious or unusual.” 

The gallery’s opening show is testament to Notton’s quest to platform bold and original artists unafraid of putting raw, richly textured subject matter on the canvas. Named after a recently coined neurological condition known as Hyperphantasia, where the mind creates extremely vivid mental imagery, this visceral collection of works by Scottish abstract and figurative painter Jamie Gallagher sees the artist's hyper vivid thoughts and images laid bare in his technicolour brushstrokes.

Manifested from his hyper fantastic imagination, Gallagher’s works straddle the abstract and the figurative, the sublime and the brutal. “People with hyperphantasia have hyper visceral processing that is often accompanied by a very strong internal monologue. This was of acute fascination to Jamie,” Notton explains. “His work explores the depths and the ins and outs of the human condition.”

With a new show landing every month for at least four months, other artists on Notton’s roster will continue to excavate dense psychological and social themes, drawing on both personal histories and imaginative constructs. In the case of Polish surrealist artist Marzena Ablewska, childhood experiences of living in the shadow of a local forest are manifested in the form of mythical folk scenes sparked by hidden urges and subconscious desires.

That fascination with ancient symbology is shared by another of Notton’s artists, Henrik Delehag, whose discovery of Maori culture during his teenage years in New Zealand stimulated a fascination with the essential symbolic power of tribal art that he has continued to draw on to this day.

Rather than mimic sacred indigenous cultures Delehag has long sought to forge modern day mythologies of his own. Hundreds of drawings of faces, observed and noted in sketchbooks, like diary entries during daily commutes on the tube, are the starting point of translations into graphic symbols.

Last, but certainly not least, is Vikram Kushwah, an India-born, England-based photographer captivated by the intimacies of the human experience and the limitlessness of childlike wonder. Kushwah’s work is hard to summarise – perhaps deliberately so – but his images draw on his mixed race heritage, captured in England and India, willing the viewer into dreamy and nostalgic worlds reminiscent of David Lynch’s surrealist filmscapes. 

Speaking excitedly of these “very different” artists, Notton sees their output “as a demonstration of the breadth of talent and creativity” he is attracted to. “I want people to walk out with a sense of having been transplanted to somewhere else for that brief moment,” he says. “To come away with a fresh or a different perspective on something.”

Notton Gallery, on Seymour Place, opens on September 7 with Hyperphantasia, an exhibition of new work by the Scottish abstract and figurative painter Jamie Gallagher.