Victor Pasmore, Square Motif, Blue and Gold: The Eclipse, 1950
Victor Pasmore (1908-1998) was a British artist and architect who made major strides in the rise of abstract art in Britain. After taking an administrative job to support his family, he studied painting part-time at the Central School of Art. Many of his earlier works are misty landscapes, presenting a dreamlike view of the Thames. He turned to pure abstraction in 1947, often employing unusual materials, and working in sculpture and construction as well as painting. Pasmore's art developed over the following years, and he continued to experiment with new styles throughout his life. The painting I have chosen to feature is from the height of Pasmore's early success. This piece has some influence from Constructivism, which celebrated a machine aesthetic, but there is also something distinctly organic about it, despite the grids and angular shapes. The painting seems to draw on landscape composition, with a horizon line, a golden sky, and even a disc to replace the sun (a notion enhanced by the subtitle of "Eclipse"). However, the pure abstraction of the piece is pervasive, and reading traditional figuration into it too much is dangerous. Pasmore manages to convey both flatness and depth, both stillness and motion. This is achieved through the contrasting shapes, where the rectangles and triangles in the lower portion are static, but the curves and swirls that radiate from the disc in the upper portion are dynamic and moving. This gives the painting continual interest, because our perception of it is constantly shifting. Meanwhile, the painting is also, quite simply, a beautiful exploration of shape and color.