The science of art

First published in News by

It's not everyday that Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard is quoted as an authority on art. Thetan warfare, yes. The vagaries of celebrity couch-jumping, certainly. But artistic aesthethics? Not so much.

And yet, Hubbard has written a best-selling book on the subject, according to Fraser Kee Scott, director of Wimbledon's hugely successful A Gallery.

"The technical expertise adequate to produce an emotional impact," cites Scott. "That's how Hubbard described it, and that's the guideline I use when choosing work for the gallery."

Okay, so it may be fairly fashionable to knock Hubbard, but when it comes to entrepreneurs, 28-year-old Scott is more than a match for his maker. In the 10 years since he set up A Gallery on Merton Hall Road, it has bought and sold some of the biggest names in contemporary British art, often pre-empting the mainstream by at least a year.

Its first ever exhibit was Crucifix, a photograph by recent Chelsea graduate Alison Jackson priced at £1,500. Just five years later, Jackson had a Bafta and best-selling book to her name and Crucifix had multipled by ten in value.

The artists featured in the gallery's latest show, On Form, will be hoping for the same. Opening this week, On Form will include the work of several leading figures of stuckism - art movement du jour.

"I wanted to do a figurative show so I wrote on the invitations that it would include some of the most important figurative artists in Britain," explains Scott.

"It was only when I started collecting for the show that I thought: Gulp, I had better do what I said I would!' So I really started looking and we now have some great people."

As well as stuckists Charles Thomson, Peter McArdle, Paul Harvey and Peter Murphy, the show also features local sculptor Diarmuid Byron O'Connor and the dotty Kate Moss portraits of Paul Normanfell.

The range is wide. As someone who is happy supplying Wetherspoons with artwork for its many pubs, Fraser is no purist. But neither is he averse to controversy.

Only this weekend, the painting used to promote the show on his Myspace page - Peter McArdle's On a Theme of Annunciation - was censored by website administators for containing a female nude.

"It's no longer MySpace, it's Murdoch Space," says Scott. "They just came in and took it away without any warning. But it's not porn - it's a blob of paint. It's not there for titillation - it's there to provoke thought. They don't seem to be able to differentiate between the two!"

On Form, A Gallery, 154 Merton Hall Road, Wimb- ledon, until May 20, call 0208 540 8296.

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