Adrian Searle

Nigel Greenwood gave me my first solo show, in 1988, I think to our mutual surprise. Getting him to come to my studio was a frustrating business of cancelled appointments. When he finally made it, he accidentally broke my coffee pot, got paint on his trousers and found he had locked himself out of his car. He gave me the show anyway.

This was typical. He was a man in slight disarray, but forever enthusiastic, generous and thoughtful. His tastes were broad, and he showed a bewildering, even erratic, range of artists, all of whom, like himself, were marked by their independent-mindedness. He was one of the few British gallerists to look as much to Europe as to America in the 1970s, as enthusiastic for unknown artists as for those with international reputations.

It is difficult for those not around in the London art world of the 1970s and 80s to realise how difficult a world it was for a young artist – yet Nigel’s door was always open, and he followed his enthusiasms with scant regard to financial risk, even less care for fashion. He went his own way. He may have been better at discovering artists than keeping them, but if not for him several major careers would not have been launched, others would not have been sustained through lean years, and for two decades his gallery made the British art world a better place.