Dom Sylvester Houédard
Richard Saltoun, London, A26
Dom Sylvester Houédard was a remarkable man: a Benedictine monk at Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire who became a cult figure of counter-culture sixties London.
Known simply as dsh, his avant-garde credentials were impeccable. A pioneer of concrete poetry (typewriter art) he also wrote extensively on new spiritual approaches to art and was a authority on the Beat movement. His abstract visual poems, known as Typestracts, A4 in size and typed on an Olivetti Lettera 22.
He exhibited regularly in the 60s; Lisson Gallery, the ICA and was championed by renowned art historian Guy Brett. The V&A museum held a retrospective of his work (1971) and he exhibited internationally throughout the 70s, becoming a key figure in the international concrete poetry movement.
Since the 1970s, the scarcity of his work (his estate was bequeathed to a UK library) and his reputation as a theologian and aesthete, has turned this avant-garde artist into a semi-mythical figure. Interest in dsh’s is now gathering pace: the recent publication of a monograph and a study day at the South London Gallery.
Richard Saltoun Gallery has long sought to hold a dsh exhibition and has recently secured a major private collection. This elusive artist deserves his place as one of the leading influencers and visionaries of the 1960s cultural artistic revolution.