This luminous painting from 1956 is a testament to one of Wells’s key artistic achievements: combining pure abstraction with inspiration drawn from nature. He claimed the slender curved black form that slices vertically down the centre of the canvas was probably subconsciously derived from a sailing boat. The translucent blue form to its right, and lighter blue panel on the left support the allusion to a seascape.
Date of work
Original: Oil on board 91.5 x 122 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.