Right of Reply: Harold W Rubin

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A London gallery owner responds to Tom Lubbock's `Critical Condition' article on the state of the visual arts

in Tuesday's Independent

AS A London gallery owner, I should be qualified to answer Tom Lubbock's article on criticism. I have designed numerous galleries, I have been a curator and I am (once again) a dealer. I own many works of art. However, I am not rich, nor have many of the persons to whom I have sold art been rich, unless, in the words of Bernard Barruch, "being rich is having a dollar more than you can spend".

What Mr Lubbock has done is to compound the myth and misunderstanding about how and why art is exhibited and who is concerned with it. No; very rarely will a review help to sell much of the art it discusses. Taking his premise further, I know that it would be cheaper and less work if I dealt privately and avoided having a gallery open to the public. My desire for his review or that of others is for the artist's sake. Many artists whose work I have shown are more anxious for that word than for the sales which might help support them financially. Time after time I have to explain how hard I have tried to make contact and been ignored. At last there has been some explanation as to how the chosen ones are selected.

Admittedly, there are so many galleries and so many artists that getting a few words in print is doubtless as rare as winning the Lottery. The purpose of an exhibition is that an artist will see and evaluate his own work in having it arranged together in an environment other than his own workshop.

I know from experience how the work will change and develop after such a showing. One painter answered the question of who he painted for with: "Myself and 12 friends." Could a critic's role be that of helping find those friends as his contribution and responsibility?

Every so often one sees or hears of a neophyte visitor who wakes to an awareness he has never experienced before when looking at an exhibition. It is nice to encourage these souls.