This painting belongs to a group of works from the end of the 1950s, during which time Wells experimented with a looser and denser painting style. Though the composition is heavily influenced by the techniques of American abstract expressionism, its inspiration came from the bright yellow colouring of the Brimstone Moth, a species indigenous to Britain.
Brimstone Moth Variation
Date of work
Original: Oil on hardboard 121.9 x 76 cm Tate © The estate of John Wells
John Wells was a major figure in the St Ives group of artists that were at the forefront of British modern and abstract art in the post-war period. He worked as a GP throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, only pursuing art as a career in his late thirties, when he moved to Newlyn, near St Ives in 1946. He remained in the town for the rest of his life, drawing inspiration from the dramatic landscapes and vast Atlantic vistas. His abstract paintings and sculptures are celebrated for their subtlety and controlled use of space and form.