This painting is typical of Wells’s method at this time. Applying a series of oil glazes to a white background, he then scratched and rubbed the surface to reveal the underlying paint. The imagery was based on an imaginary landscape, though the colouring alludes to Cornwall’s iron-ore stained cliffs, also referenced by Wells in paintings such as Tin Country
Date of work
Original: Oil on hardboard 25.3 x 40.6 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.