John Plumb: A Retropspective

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Extract from Paisnel Gallery press release:

Counting Mark Rothko and William Turnbull as peers, and enjoying a 50-year career at the centre of abstract British art, the late John Plumb is finally achieving the recognition his work deserves. Paisnel Gallery is delighted to mark the renaissance of one of the most instinctive painters of the 20th century with its forthcoming exhibition, John Plumb a retrospective, his first career-spanning show. The exhibition runs from 10-20 June at Paisnel Gallery and Gallery 8, both in St James’s, London.

After studying at Central Saint Martins, John Plumb had become a distinguished abstract painter by the 1960s. Initially making his name with a series of stunningly rich tachiste paintings, it was Plumb’s inclusion in the epochal Situation exhibitions, alongside artists such as Bridget Riley and John Hoyland, which signalled his rise to prominence. On a large scale, his use of tape, colour and geometric form was emblematic of London’s status as the 1960s capital of cool, with one of the 1962 tape series now featuring in Tate’s collection.

Plumb progressed from there. With Rothko as a contemporary and acquaintance, he began producing colour-fields of dramatic scale, presence and atmosphere, admired across late 1960s Europe. Plumb’s deep interest in American abstract art and jazz subsequently led him to employ the element of chance in his work, randomly picking day-glo colours to create striking improvisational grids and structures throughout the 1970s.

For various reasons the 1980s were unproductive for Plumb and it was not until the 1990s that he captured the public imagination again, with his large-scale hydrastructure series. This energetic, organic series, also shown in the Tate Collection, is further evidence of his dedication to expression. The John Plumb exhibition explores all these distinct phases of his career, from the 1950s right through to the last work displayed from 1995.

According to gallery owner, Stephen Paisnel, “Artists should be measured by their ability to evolve, invent and progress, and you only have to look at Plumb’s work over a 50-year period to see that not only was he diverse and confident, he was courageous. His work is impulsive in colour, scale, energy and power and the volume makes it truly great to behold. People wanted to live with his work in the past and we really hope collectors will view this exhibition and the catalogue and think, ‘I never realised he was this good’”.

Alongside the larger paintings, the gallery will be showing smaller studies and presenting a collection of fascinating archive material, including photographs, press reviews and sketch books.

The exhibition catalogue, with an introductory essay by the late Frank Whitford, will be available from 25 May.







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