Friday, 24 September 2021

Abstract artist who let rip towards end

Abstract artist who let rip towards end

TOWARDS the end of her working life, the leading British abstract artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham enjoyed “letting rip”.

That was how the Scottish-born artist liked to describe making her later work — with a blaze of colour defining her energetic output.

Now a month-long exhibition of Barns-Graham’s late paintings and prints is going on show at the Bohun Gallery in Reading Road from tomorrow (Saturday).

Gallery manager Katie Newman said: “As a founding member of the St Ives group of artists,
Barns-Graham is acclaimed foremost as a British Modernist, shaping the development of 20th century British art together with Terry Frost, Barbara Hepworth and Christopher Wood.

“However, it was her late work which immediately connected with an even wider audience, who relished the ‘joie de vivre’, colour and energy created by the artist in the last decade of her life.

“These late paintings have become highly prized amongst Modern British collectors today and this exhibition marks a unique opportunity for these enthusiasts, with some of the finest images created by Barns-Graham during this richly creative decade.

“Wilhelmina Barns-Graham was a master of her craft — an artist perfectly attuned to every nuance of each hue and tone. Furthermore, she had the unusual gift of synaesthesia.

“This meant that sensations she experienced were translated intuitively into specific colours with attendant harmonies and discords.

“Colour played a central role throughout her life but it is in these late works where it explodes with new invigoration, each brush mark saturated with a different colour.”

A pivotal moment for Barns-Graham — who died in 2004 aged 91 — came in 1998 when she agreed to make screenprints with Carol Robertson of Graal Press.

Katie added: “What started tentatively for the then 86-year-old artist turned into perhaps the most productive, creative period of her life and realised an exceptional body of work, with 65 editions made within her final five years. Indeed, there was often a cross-fertilisation of ideas between her painting and printmaking.

“This hugely successful output, which one can define as a true collaboration between the artist and technician, proved to be an extraordinary finale to an extraordinary career.”

Titled “The Joy of Colour: the Late Paintings and Prints”, the exhibition runs until Saturday, February 24.

The gallery’s opening hours are 10am to 5pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays. For more information, including a preview of the works on show, visit

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