Angus Vasili: Brutalism & Optimism

By Greg McGee

Angus Vasili: Brutalism & Optimism


This article first appeared on Charles Hutchinson's site:


Tower Street gallery According to McGee sets its sights on architecture in its current exhibition, 'Optimism and Brutalism'. Says gallery director Greg McGee, "Since the first Lockdown we found that nature does more than heal. It can provoke and galvanise, and a lot of that energy can be found in the new seascapes or moorscapes that collectors have been buying or commissioning. Recently we have had more collectors asking about cityscapes and depictions of architecture, something about the definition of hard angles and the certainty of edges is chiming with tastes. We thought it was about time we gave Angus Vasili a ring. And that was how this current exhibition, ‘Optimism and Brutalism’ came about."

The McGees are of the mind that the reputation of Brutalism is in need of rehabilitation. "It goes beyond subjective opinions," says gallery co-director Ails McGee, "These buildings were once loved for their linear honesty. Now they are often derided. Vasili pulls them out from Architectural Cancel Culture and reevaluates them."

With titles like 'Central Hall', 'Hayward Gallery', JB Morrell Library', Vasili's latest collection provides an idiosyncratic overview of Brutalism's greatest hits. They are more than mere portraits of their stark subject matter, says Greg. "His silkscreens are at heart playful experiments. There are blushes of hot colour, dancing, broken lines, white slices of negative space deliberately alone. These come from a love of the process and the accidents it throws up as much as the focused observation of a building style that most people think leaves no room for flexibility."

Says Angus, "My fascination with concrete, industrial landscapes and what I recently came to know as ‘brutalism’ has triggered this series of screen prints," he says. "I'm combining photography, texture and printmaking to create a raw aesthetic that resonates with the fundamental material of brutalism.

"I use a combination of bold colour and texture to help convey the optimism that these architects strived to achieve with this period of architecture.'’

The exhibition continues in McGee's front gallery. "It's a sharp reminder that there's room for more than ancient history in York," says Greg, "There have been calls to demolish York's Stonebow and replace it with faux Georgian gentility, which would be even more irksome, because of its sleight of hand. We're opposite Clifford's Tower, arguably York's most famous landmark. We can see for ourselves how Vasili's art contributes to the discussion of York's architectural continuum, and we're finding that our clients and collectors are in agreement."

'Angus Vasili: Optimism and Brutalism' continues until November 14th at According to McGee, opposite Clifford's Tower. For more information on the artist, visit: