Past exhibition

Patrick Heron

Works from 1956 to 1969
13 February–16 March 2002

The earlier paintings and works on paper in this exhibition from the 50’s depict Heron’s progression from figuration to abstraction. The majority of works in the current exhibition come directly from the artist’s family, and several have never been previously exhibited. In 1956 Heron returned to Cornwall after spending over a decade in London and inspired by the gardens surrounding his new home Eagles Nest, he began his ‘stripe paintings’ such as ‘Cave : September : 1956’. Alongside these came his first ‘garden paintings’ such as ‘Red Painting : June 1957’. The development from his figurative work was in part a response to the work of American Abstract Expressionists whose work he saw as bringing ‘a new kind of energy and inventiveness’, but also from the continual influence of the great French colourists Bonnard and Matisse. From 1958 he began to paint fields of colour containing soft edged squares and discs. In 1963 the critic Norbert Lynton wrote the defining phrase about Heron’s latest paintings, ‘it is not possible even to distinguish significantly between the forms and the colour fields they inhabit’. By the late sixties he was working on a much larger scale and applying paint with tiny brushes which, in paintings such as ‘Dark Red with Venetian, Violet and Two Scarlets : 1969’, give an overall texture to the richly coloured surface of the canvas.

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