Paul Nash – Tate Britain
Before I went to see the exhibition at the Tate Modern I was reading Paul Nash – Landscape and the Life of Objects (Andrew Causey). He worked very much in the same genre as Samuel Palmer and William Blake – also a painter/poet.
1 Dreaming Trees
Working from he 3 trees series and many depictions from the two images below of Wittenham Clumps (1913) he began to conjour up the feeling of place which he returned to after his WWII experiences.
2 We are Making a New World (1918)
Dramatic sunrise/sunset with red clouds overlooking dramatically ruptured earth and trees – uncompromising not heroic. This he repeated in many of his wartime paintings moving into an almost abstract/realist phase.
“Nash’s war experience transformed his work: he painted in oil for the first time and discovered a new artistic language of powerfully simplified forms which both conveyed the appearance of ravaged landscapes and suggested violent emotional experiences”. (exhibition handout)
“In the 1920s Nash became emotionally attached to significant places which inspired sequences of works. He responded both to the specific qualities of these landscapes and the feelings and memories that they prompted”. (exhibition handout)
“Nash’s paintings rapidly moved in 1928-9 from popular landscape to emblematic representation…suggests an elite visual langue that can work…by means of surrogates. ..Nash appreciated in full for the first time how defunct standards of representation in art had become”. (Causey p63)
4 Room & Book
Reflections, intersecting planes, multiple perspectives
“Yet I still need particularly organic features to make my fixed conceptual image” (1937)
5 Unit One
For Nash Unit One was important in publicly stating his commitment to international modernism…alongside other leading British avant-garde artists
I found this section the least interesting apart from the Stone Tree and Druid Landscape paintings 1934 where he refers to ancient stones he has visited at Avebury and other sites.
6 The Life of the Inanimate Object
” Nash explored the idea of a life force in inanimate objects and created encounters between them, arranging flints, bones driftwood and small geometric objects into his still life compositions”.
Worked with Eileen Agar – one of my favourite unsung heros of collage, avant-garde imagery. With her he created assemblages using photographs, sketches, paintings and other objects.
7 Unseen Landscapes
Post 1936 he works on intensly surrealist landscapes where reality & dream co-exist. (Even on the Downs)
International Surrealist Exhibition
Circles of the Monoliths
Land of Dreams
8 Aerial Creatures
“The mystical association of two objects which inhabit different elements and have no apparent relation to each other”.
More painterly depictions beautifully rendered – some of my favourites.
I was moved by many of Nash’s paintings in ways that I didn’t expect to be. However I was mostly drawn to the closing of the circle the meeting as it were of his very early pre-war drawings of trees and particular places and the later equinox cycle.