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Victor Pasmore Towards a New Reality


26 November 2016 – 19 February 2017

Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham Lakeside Arts

The Djanogly Gallery is pleased to announce a major exhibition of the work of British artist Victor Pasmore (1908-1998) opening 26 November 2016. This exhibition looks at Pasmore’s work between the years 1930 and 1967 and tells the story of how he became one of this country’s leading abstract artists. 50 key paintings and sculptural reliefs will be displayed at the Djanogly Gallery including an important loan of 9 works from the Tate and a number of rarely exhibited works from private collections.

With no formal art training, Pasmore established a reputation in the 1930s for his paintings of landscapes, nudes and still-life studies. His work was much admired by Kenneth Clark, Director of the National Gallery. It was Clark’s financial support that enabled Pasmore to give up his day job as a clerk and to devote himself entirely to his art and teaching at the Euston Road School.  In the early 1940s he made a group of tender portraits and nude studies of his wife Wendy that feature prominently in the exhibition.

Nothing seemed to suggest the radical change in direction Pasmore’s work was to take shortly after the end of the Second World War. A conscientious objector during the war, the artist and his family moved to Hammersmith and Chiswick by the River Thames and it was here that he painted a series of river and garden scenes. These works seen together reveal a gradual process of simplification and reduction and a growing concern with structure and pattern. They led to his first fully abstract paintings in 1948, and a series of collages. These, in turn, were quickly followed by a number of paintings featuring spiral patterns, the most notable of which in the exhibition is ‘The Snowstorm’ commissioned by the Arts Council for the Festival of Britain in 1951. Neil Walker, Head of Visual Arts Programming, at the Djanogly Gallery said:

If you were to take two of Pasmore’s paintings a couple of years apart from the late 40s or early 50s, you’d hardly think they were by the same artist. The drastic change in direction his work took at this time was astonishing. Just how quickly his work changed in such a short space of time will be a revelation to anyone visiting this exhibition. 

Around 1955, the artist’s search for an abstract language that made no reference to the natural world, led to his constructed reliefs made from pre-formed industrial materials. Pasmore’s conversion to abstract art, made in the face of much critical hostility, was later described as ‘the most revolutionary event in post-war British art’. His experiments in sculptural form and spatial relationships led to a number of architectural commissions including his work with urban planners of a housing estate at Peterlee New Town, County Durham. One of the latest works in the exhibition is Pasmore’s model for the Apollo pavilion at Peterlee.

Victor Pasmore: Towards a New Reality has been selected and organised by independent curator, Anne Goodchild, with Neil Walker, Head of Visual Arts Programming, Djanogly Gallery. A lavishly illustrated book published by Lund Humphries in association with the Djanogly Gallery will accompany the exhibition.


Image Credit: Triangular Motif in Pink and Yellow 1949 Oil and paper collage on canvas. Ferens Art Gallery, Hull Museums © Estate of Victor Pasmore. All rights reserved, DACS 2016

Posted on 25 November 2016

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