Saatchi show ventures north for the first time

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The Independent Online

Highlights of The Triumph of Painting show, which has drawn large crowds despite mixed reviews to his gallery on London's South Bank, will open at the Leeds City Art Gallery in January and run until March.

The move was a condition of a sponsorship deal between the Saatchi Gallery and Walker Morris, a Leeds-based law firm, which is supporting the third instalment of the show and a previously unplanned fourth round.

After attracting more than 360,000 visitors since opening in London in January, the show has been just extended to a six-part series running to next April.

It profiles painting, a genre Charles Saatchi said had been seen as "pitifully uncool and bourgeois" for the past 20 years but was now enjoying a revival.

The loan was welcomed by civic leaders in Leeds. John Proctor, the city council's executive board member for leisure, said: "This is a fantastic coup by Walker Morris and one that will be a significant boost to the city's national and international image."

Until now, British art-lovers have had the opportunity to see the Saatchi collection only at his own gallery or, once, in the Sensation show at the Royal Academy. This later transferred to New York where there was a row over a dung-encrusted painting of the Madonna by Chris Ofili.

The deal to take works outside the capital is a new venture for the advertising millionaire.

Nigel Walsh, curator of exhibitions for Leeds Museums and Galleries, said he was delighted. "The Saatchi Gallery has been very accommodating," he said. "The show isn't selected yet, but we'll be able to have a selection from all six parts so we might be showing things that haven't been seen [in London] yet."

He expected it would attract audiences from across the North to the Leeds gallery which usually receives around 250,000 visitors a year. It would have been very difficult for the gallery to raise the funds to mount such shows, he said, adding that it would be exciting to see the purchases of a major collector.

Charles Saatchi has admitted that he never thought the show would be a success. "It's good that the public are responding to painting so keenly," he said.