Richard Wilson’s 20:50 Installation Acquired By Australian Gambling Millionaire

Richard Wilson

20:50, the oily work by Richard Wilson will leave the Saatchi Gallery in London, and head for David Walsh’s museum in Tasmania—but the work may go on a world tour first The Australian collector David Walsh has bought the oil installation 20:50 by the UK sculptor Wilson. The work of art will be housed at Walsh’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) outside Hobart in Tasmania. The subterranean museum, which is the largest privately run space in Australia, opened in 2011.

For 20:50, the gallery is filled to waist height with recycled engine oil, the surface of the oil mirrors the architecture of the room. A walkway extends from a single entrance, leading the viewer into the space until they are surrounded by oil on three sides.

David Walsh, a mathematician and professional gambler, stated: “I am buying Charles Saatchi’s [20:50 work].” Wilson’s work will move from the Saatchi Gallery in London to Mona in Tasmania in 2016, it was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Saatchi Gallery. “20:50 has been a permanent installation at the Saatchi Gallery since 1987 and brought wonder and inspiration to millions over the years,” she added.

The installation was first shown at Saatchi’s Boundary Road Gallery in northwest London, and was presented at the Saatchi Gallery in County Hall in 2003. The piece has been on display at the collector’s Duke of York’s HQ space in west London since 2010, and is the only permanent installation at the gallery.

Walsh adds: “I have paid a deposit on 20:50, but it is contemplated that it might go on a bit of a world tour before ‘delivery’, in a couple of years. What I will do with it then remains steadfastly unresolved.”

“A number of institutions have expressed the wish to present this unique work before it lands at its new permanent home… touring 20:50 is a wish all parties are happy to explore,” adds Saatchi’s spokeswoman.

Wilson says that Walsh has invited him to Tasmania to view the Mona site. “20:50 is essentially an idea. It can be applied to any internal space and in each space it will be radically different in appearance – because it will reflect that specific space and adapt to that space’s physical parameters – but fundamentally on the level of function, materials and meaning, it is always exactly the same,” the artist says.

The installation work has been shown in nine locations in total including Matt’s Gallery in London in 1987, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra in 1996 and the Red Jail in Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq in 2009.


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