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Leonard Cohen: a private gaze

Wendy Jones loves Richard and Graham’s work with Leonard on the High Street.

Published on July 23rd 2007.

Leonard Cohen: a private gaze

Richard Goodall, who opened his beautiful new gallery on High Street recently, has already proved in Thomas Street for the last seven years, that he does what he does exceedingly well. He has an unerring eye for talent, and the persistence to bring it to a wall-near-you.

The wonder of the first exhibition on High Street is that it happened at all. But this is how it did.

Many years ago Goodall bought a book of poetry from the tortured song-writer, enigma and oft-times genius Leonard Cohen. This also featured a couple of his line drawings, Goodall was instantly smitten. He then met with Graham Nash of Nash Editions in California. Nash had been, of course, a leading member of Manchester band the Hollies, before becoming one of the founders of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Goodall and Nash decided to collaborate in delivering this exhibition, two and a half years later we can all see the success the venture.

Many of the works combine image and text. These include descriptions of the subject, thoughts and letters which are humorous, touching and immediate: it's Leonard, poet and painter, captured in a frame. They are a delight.

The gallery itself is worth a visit. A huge, elegant, glass walled space with polished concrete floor that will bring out the hidden rollerblader in you. This provides a light and airy space in which to enjoy art.

I have seen the show at least six times and have narrowed my choice of possible purchases down to an improbable fifteen. My first would be a coloured drawing with the caption One of the days when the hat doesn't help: a self portrait, just one of many that Cohen did every day for a year. Then, there’s Red Violin, at least three life drawings, and The End of the Day, which has already sold the first twenty five editions. If however like me, you are not able to make the big investment, there is a full colour catalogue some of which are signed and which will keep you happy for years. There is a comprehensive but well written forward by Robert Enright.

So far, so excellent, although memories of the launch still cause pain. What happened to exhibition etiquette? Call me sensitive to a fault if you like, but I was almost in an under-the-sofa-situation with embarrassment at the frenzy of adoration going on. I know everybody there was an ardent fan of Leonard Cohen and the man himself seemed to be coping with it well, but ...come-on-girls! There were moments when I feared he was in danger of being digested before our very eyes. Let's show our idols we love them by all means, but let's not eat them alive. It’s the work that they’ve done that will be remembered after all.

Leonard Cohen
Richard Goodall Gallery (103 High Street. Northern Quarter, City. 0161 834 3330 www.richardgoodallgallery.com)
Tue-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat noon-4pm

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andyJuly 23rd 2007.

i like the look of some of cohens work here, but i'm not sure about these 'limited edition' signed print things. It seems to me like a license to print money, especially at £1500 a pop?

scottJuly 23rd 2007.

i know, if these were originals for 1.5k though, id buy one in a shot, but 1.5k for a print, outrageous

CarlosTheJackalJuly 23rd 2007.

My girlfriend's a huge Cohen fan, and even she couldn't bring herself to enjoy this exhibition. In light of the chap's current manager-induced pecuniary situation, we both forgave the blatant "What have I got that I can sell?" motivation behind this exhibition, musical release and tour, but - as both Andy and Scott say - £1500 for a print is as outrageous in a gallery as it would be in a branch of Athena. Not even a solitary original on display makes you feel further like you *have* wandered into a print shop, but the snotty, ignorant attitude of the gallery staff soon disavows you of that belief. We visited on a very quiet Saturday lunchtime, and my girlfriend was clearly in a purse-twitching dilemma. Yet self-important snobbery and a focus not on their visitors but on arranging their iMac's desktop icons cost the staff any chance of a sale. Mr Goodall, you really should consider finding some art-lovers, and not self-lovers, to staff your jolly nice gallery.

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