Colour Studies by
Sir Terry Frost, RA
5 to 28 August 2017
Private View 4 August from 6 to 8pm
This August we will exhibit studies and maquettes by Terry Frost with collage, paintings & prints to show how this influential artist used colour & form in his work.
Terry Frost found inspiration everywhere whether it was a walk down the quay at St Ives with his son, fields edged with trees at Leeds, the sun in Arizona, the leaning tower of Pisa and even Mae West's corset!
For more information see our article "Terry Frost in his own words".
To see all the available Terry Frost works click here.
See "Various Studies" from 1950's when Terry Frost was teaching at Leeds.
He said to his students "Each picture has to contain some discovery or otherwise it would be dead - or just repetitive or dead".
This piece exemplifies his constant exploration of form and mark making ideas, which later would be used in larger works e.g. Yellow Tritych (1957-59) (Tate Gallery collection). He discovered impact of harmony, contrast and dissonance relatively early on, and his experiments with colour and form to an established format sustained him throughout his life.
In these studies he is working up a repetoire of motifs or strong recurring images which he would use again and again in his ouevre.
Many of these were derived from the sun, boats, flags, signs as well as other forms.
"Untitled" 1970 is one of a series of works Terry Frost completed at this time, which also inspired similar lithographs.
These are "Suspended or Stacked Forms" seemingly floating in mid air, precariously balancing.
It was a combination of forms that would provide the subject for paintings and prints into the late 1980's.
In these works Terry Frost is "pursuing ways of making colour act, of holding colour without hard structure so that it could be free to express only itself." [From Terry Frost by David Lewis]
"Cyclists Battersea" 1947 shows an artist transitioning from representation to abstraction.
At the time he said
"It was all coming together for me. Victor (Pasmore) came to Battersea to see what I was doing. Minton and Coldstream were at Camberwell at the time, but what they were doing did not interest me very much. There was something stifling about it. Coldstream was god, but he seemed to put a straightjacket on my imagination. It was right for him, but it became quite clear that this was'nt my way....I have no regrets at all. Rejection is every bit as important as appreciation, providing one has confidence to withstand it."
This is a Study for Blue and Yellow Challenger a large painting 140 x 226 cm painted in 1988.
Terry Frost liked to work with collage because it enabled him to create forms in a variety of colours, move them around to achieve then right combinations, rhythms, tensions and contrasts in the final work.
This is the collage maquette or study for Madron Woodcut II (1998).
The title Madron comes from a village near Newlyn, and the shapes part of Terry Frost's repetoire since the 1950's.
Thet were inspired by the sun and moon, and boats bobbing up and down at their moorings in St Ives Harbour.
However, in these works, Frost wanted them to be just the shapes and not what they represented. he said "The Boats - people call them boats - but they are really just clean, honest shapes."
After Terry Frost started visiting Cyprus in 1977, the sun was a big influence on many works into the 1990's.
He said "The sun is setting beyond the mountains and there is just a moment when the sun becomes a vast red circle"
This is exemplified here in "Sun and Spirals" 1998.
Spirals, apart from being a pleasing motif, were seen by Frost in a variety of sources: the Arizona desert, a whirling sheeps tail and eddies in a receding tide.
They first appeared in a relief in 1951-52, but really resurfaced in a number of works from 1990 - specifically the Arizona Triptych.
See Timberaine E, which was previously shown in the recent Tate Retropective at Newlyn and Exchange Galleries from October 2015 to commemorate the centenary of the artists birth.
This is from a series of 10 triptych woodcuts (A to J, each 105 x 150 cm) published by Paragon Press in 2000-1, printed by Hugh Stoneman at Stoneman Graphics.
The idea for Timberaines came from a large painting of stripes, which itself was inspired by tree trunks in a forest.
Terry Frost referred to the painting as "a jungle"; the title is concocted from "Timber" and "Rainforest".
He said "I wanted a title that described what I was doing. Timberaine is a rainforest; it is about timber and trunks".
In creating the sets of prints, Frost enjoyed experimenting with the weight and tone of colours, relating them to each other and arranging them in different sequences.
The Trewellard Sun series (1989) of eight linocut prints was the first to be commissioned by Charles Booth-Clibborn (owner of Paragon Press). Linocut was chosen as the medium for the strong, flat and rich colours that could be achieved.
From his home in Newlyn, Terry Frost could see the sun set over the tin mines near the village of Trewellard in the West.
The sun, as noted above, had been a recurring theme in his work and was an enormous source of inspiration whether in St Ives, San Jose or Cyprus.
Terry Frost used to emphasise intuition before calculation in relation to his work:
"Seeing is a matter of looking and feeling, for things do not look exactly like you think they do. To look with preconceived notions of visual experience is to destroy the possibility of creating again that experience in paint. If you know before you look, then you cannot see for looking" (from Painting the Warmth of the Sun, 1995).
The sun with its radiating lines exploding from a sphere, retains a sense of compositional control which reveals that the techniques learnt during the 1950s were still proving useful four decades later.