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BEYOND ABSTRACTION THE ART OF BASIL BEATTIE PAUL MOORHOUSE

T

he four paintings in this exhibition represent the most recent developments in a career, which now spans more than thirty years. Basil Beattie is one of a small number of older British artists whose work has both continued and extended the legacy of Abstract Expressionism. In common with such artists as Gillian Ayres, John Hoyland and Albert Irvin, a decisive influence on Beattie’s career was exposure to the New American Painting, as revealed in the exhibition of that title held at the Tate Gallery in 1959. The American artists’ emphasis on expansive scale, painterliness and extreme subjectivity established the parameters for Beattie’s art and became its guiding principles. As the recent works reveal, issues of form and process remain vitally important for Beattie. In all four paintings there is an extreme and urgent insistence on formal composition, on the material substance of the paint, and on its wide-ranging means of application. In Another Place the central, rectangular area of the canvas has been defined by staining the surface with varnish and allowing this to cascade downwards in transparent veils. This passage contrasts vividly with the adjacent pair of columnar forms, which have been established by repeated arcing brushstrokes of thickly applied paint. The righthand side of the image comprises two abutting rectangles: simplified shapes whose visual presence derives from the seductive, tactile quality of the paint surface. By exploiting the contrasts between these different passages Beattie has invested the painting with a powerful, yet subtly orchestrated visual dynamic. The imposing physical presence of the work may thus, in part at least, be attributed to these abstract qualities of mark, shape, space and texture. In its investigation of the physical means of expression, Beattie’s art continues a central concern of the New York School painters. But in terms of iconography - the way certain forms express meaning and feeling - Beattie’s paintings represent 55

Basil Beattie LARGE WORKS 1986 2009  

Bail Beattie Large Paintings and Installations

Basil Beattie LARGE WORKS 1986 2009  

Bail Beattie Large Paintings and Installations

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