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Deep Inside I Looked by Victor Pasmore, CH, CBE, RA


Lawrence Alloway's slim 1954 volume Nine Abstract Artists encapsulates the discourse around British constructivism in the early 1950's. In his statement for this volume, Pasmore had talked about the necessity to move into 'actual dimensions' and by this time, for his orthogonal reliefs, he was having components machine-cut and toying with the notion of editions of multiples.
However, by the late 1950's, Pasmore was no longer arguing for a logical move from relief into three dimensions, and was increasingly concerned that his linear and planar forms should result in an image 'which surprises us by its familiarity and touches us as if awakening forgotten memories buried long ago.'
Certain lines from his own poetry silk screened beside the images of Correspondences reveal how far Pasmore has moved from the early 1950's rhetoric of objectivity and rationality. He asks 'by what geometry must we construct the physical world' in the modern age, and the trajectories of his springing lines are not contained by the orthogonal structures. Suggesting that the artwork has a subjective and a 'facing' quality, he wonders: 'Am I the object which I see? Am I the eyes that look at me?' And echoing Goya's Capriccio 43, Pasmore muses that' when ... reason dreams, then the heart is free.'
Configurations seemed increasingly to grow, spread, metamorphose, or magically fixate our attention. Printmaking suited the new fluidity of Pasmore's work. The 1980 Pasmore catalogue raisonnée lists one print for the period to 1964 and 86 prints or suites for 1965-79 (29 items for 1974 alone), revealing how important print-making had become for Pasmore as a medium. As Failoni and Zamboni explain:
Working with a special solvent directly on the varnished copper plate, he proceeds by controlling the flow of the solvent until an image is formed. A proof is printed; the original image is then developed and transformed into a new subjective image; the final print is engraved by the aquatint process.
The employment of solvent flow is clearest in The tear that falls..., but presumably underpins the 'finding' of the planar 'organic' forms, though there may well be starting points in his paintings. When the curtain falls... resembles a number of near symmetrical organic images, while By what geometry... resembles a variety of late 1960's linear works (e.g. Bowness/Lambertini 410,423, 437). Am I the object... and Deep inside l looked are based on two 1971 works both entitled Linear Image (B/L 476 and 479) and the aquatint evokes the surface of the original ground of board. On the other hand, Black Development (B/L 603) is clearly related to Quiet is the island... but dates to the year following the publication of the print.
Concerning other sets of prints, it has been noted that the poems were written after the images were made. The reliance on previous pictorial forms underlines this. The title of this set of prints refers to the notion of 'correspondence', a Baudelairian idea which became supremely influential in the late 19th century and which involved the ability of the artistic sign to stimulate diff?rent sorts of sensory and intuitive experience, connecting initially invisible aspects of an essentially spiritual universe. This underlines the importance of late 19th century Symbolist aesthetics, which introduced notions of the 'suggestive image' into modern art.
Artist:Victor Pasmore, CH, CBE, RA
Artwork type:Intaglio, with silk-screened text additions
Material:ink on paper
Measurements:370 x 382 mm
Technique:intaglio
Date:1974
Location:Arts & Humanities Research Council, Whitefriars, Lewins Mead, Bristol, BS1 2AE. View by appointment; please contact the AHRC's Facilities Manager on 01179 876 500
Culture:English
Rights owner:Victor Pasmore
Rights status:UK HE use only
Institution:Council for National Academic Awards
Notes:Of major importance in this context is the fact that Pasmore founded the Euston Road School and went on to teach at several famous art schools before becoming Master of Painting at Durham University.

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Quiet Is The Island
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