A Strong Sweet Smell of Incense: A Portrait of Robert Fraser

Royal Academy, London


'A Strong Sweet Smell of Incense' press release by PACE Gallery

"This exhibition, curated by Fraser’s friend, artist Brian Clarke, steers clear of academia and captures the flamboyant character of the art dealer, and the dynamism of his gallery programme. It’s more an intimate celebration than a formal revision that celebrates the career of Fraser as an art pioneer and revels in the London arts scene of the 1960s."

‘A Portrait of Robert Fraser’ by Brian in the form of an exhibition curated for and staged at the Royal Academy in collaboration with Harriet Vyner, author of Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser. The pink, neon artwork which was displayed above the entrance to the exhibition at the RA is in Brian's hand, spelling out the title of the exhibition, one of an edition of 3, executed for the 2015 show.

"Clarke’s selection of works in A Strong Sweet Smell of Incense represents the wide ranging influences and eclectic taste of a highly sophisticated aesthete. There are works that Fraser admired, that he owned, that were once on view at his iconic London gallery or passed through his hands or that reflect the cultural background in which the gallery flourished. The artists on view all once exhibited or had close personal relationships with Fraser. Hamilton immortalised his dealer in his Pop Art masterpiece Swingeing London 67, a screen print of a famous news image in which Fraser is handcuffed to Mick Jagger inside a police van, following their appearance in court on drugs charges. The title refers to the term Swinging London and mocks the judge’s decision on imposing what he literally called a swingeing penalty."