This richly textured painting is typical of the best of Wells’s work of the 1950s, combining pure abstraction with suggestions of the natural world. Its various layers of paint have been scratched and smoothed down using a razor blade and sandpaper, creating a dense, heavily worked surface. This contrasts with geometric shapes of bold colour – most notably the luminous blue panel in the centre of the composition.
Date of work
Original: Oil on board 30.2 x 28 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.