Tim Hughes enjoys Zuleika Gallery’s show of printmaker Richard Smith

British artist Richard Smith was among the country’s most respected proponents of sculptural printmaking and ‘color field’ painting, of his generation.

Influenced by advertising, packaging and cinema, his work reflected mass culture, incorporating elements of artists such as Mark Rothko, while being rooted in an obsession with the method – rather than the statement – setting him apart from other British pop art figures such as his contemporary David Hockney.

Until his death last year, Smith was feted as a master – being the first British representative at the Venice Biennale and the subject of a retrospective at London’s Tate Gallery in 1975.

To the delight of Oxfordshire collectors, an exhibition of his work is on at the Story Museum, Oxford.

The show comes courtesy of the moveable feast that is the Zuleika Gallery.

The pop-up Oxford-based gallery and art consultancy is named in honour of Beerbohm’s comedic ‘Oxford Love Story’ Zuleika Dobson, and focuses on 20th century British and emerging contemporary art.

It is masterminded by former Bonhams auctioneer Lizzie Collins.

The exhibition runs until March 22, and will display Smith’s prints from the 1970s which were produced at the time when Smith was gaining a reputation for his kite paintings – which, Collins says, pushed at the boundaries of painting, blurring the lines between sculpture and painting. Also on show are his equally ground breaking prints, which blur the lines between two dimensional and three dimensional work.

Many are printed on large pieces of paper that are folded to reveal a square, rectangle or elliptical shape completely different to the unfolded work.

Collage is introduced in the form of ties, paper clips and occasionally transparent paper. The result is a bold sense of spatial rhythm, achieved through the arrangements of the shapes, the injection of colour and the overlapping of planes.

“This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see Smith’s dynamic graphic work in Oxford,” says Collins.

At the same time, Zuleika Gallery is holding a sale of prints by Michael Craig-Martin, Sam Francis, Howard Hodgkin, Albert Irvin, Duncan Grant, Victor Pasmore and Ian Davenport at the coffee shop in Blackwell’s Bookshop in Broad Street.

Smith was at the centre of London’s art scene in the 60s and was hailed as Britain’s next art mega-star in the 1970s, with commissions for works running years in advance.

After his retrospective at the Tate, he moved from his Wiltshire home to New York with his American wife, saying: “My 1975 retrospective had been a success, but where to go from there? It was a kind of kiss of death.”

He continued to paint from his home on Long Island.

Collins says: “A timely display of internationally competitive fine art works on paper is very welcome in the centre of Oxford.”

“The works at the Story Museum are of high quality, in perfect condition and right on our doorstep.

“For an artist of Smith’s esteem, whose work can be seen in some of the world’s leading institutions, the fact that his works are available at an accessibly-priced introductory level for collectors, is rare indeed. And, following his death, are certain to only increase in value.

“Aside from the beauty of the works themselves, the art market recognises a rise in sales of good works on paper and an increase in the sector’s interest to art investors."

For more on Zuleika Gallery, go to zuleikagallery.com