A long-lost work lies at the heart of Marlborough Fine Art’s forthcoming exhibition of one of the most prominent figures in postwar British art and a pioneer of Britain’s abstract art movement. Victor Pasmore: Space as Motif (Works from 1960-1970) opens on Friday February 22 in the London gallery and includes work shown in Pasmore’s 1965 retrospective at the Tate – notably a large-scale mural painted on linen that the artist created on site, which was thought to be lost and was only rediscovered last year.
“We’re particularly excited to be bringing together many works that have not been seen publicly since the Tate retrospective,” says Frankie Rossi, the gallery’s managing director. This period is of particular significance for the gallery, as Pasmore joined Marlborough in 1961. “His work developed in tandem with, and sometimes in anticipation of, wider changes occurring in art practice across the 20th century,” says Rossi. “Moving from collages and rigorously constructed reliefs to soft geometry, painterly curves and experimental sponge and spray painting, his work from this time left a lasting legacy for abstract art in Britain, giving an almost timeless relevance to the pieces on show.”
Most of these fascinating works have not been seen in public since 1965, and 90 per cent of them are for sale (most from £75,000 to £150,000), including Line and Space, an oil on board from 1960 that demonstrates the late artist’s linear, abstract style, before he moved towards more painterly natural forms and curves later in the decade. Points of Contact, Green Development (oil on plastic and wood, 1966), a projective painting, came about when the artist began to experiment with a more vibrant colour palette, often employing greens and blues, and is a fine example of his rigorously constructed reliefs, where wooden shapes jut out of the painting, confronting the viewer’s plane of vision.
The constructivist piece Abstract in Black, White and Mahogany from 1965-66, a projective relief construction in natural wood, plastic and paint, demonstrates the influence that architecture had on Pasmore, who, in 1954, was appointed consulting director of urban design for the South West Area, Peterlee New Town in County Durham. Golden Ochre, Brown Image (oil on board, 1964), meanwhile, is an example of the more organic forms and curves that became increasingly common in his work towards the end of this decade, as he moved away from the constructivist style.
Pasmore died in 1998, but this new opportunity to appreciate such a body of his work in one place keeps his influence very much alive.