Victor Pasmore

10 December 1998 - 30 January 1999


Victor Pasmore



In Gothic Art there was an opposing duality in its content. The beautiful vaults of the Cathedral and the songs of Ave Maria were countered by the spectre of Satan hidden behind the terrible image of the Crucifixion and is call for repentance, Faith, therefore, symbolised a dual world intrinsic in our being which became conscious only in the imagination and consequently found expression only in myths. In our century, however, Science has provided the content of consciousness. But in an extraneous and objective world reason has no answer to Satan so that there can be no dream of redemption. Unreason, therefore, has become independent and Man is left only to himself. But the world of Science also needs subjective expression and it is in the concrete and independent images of modern Art that it has found an equivalent symbol.

But although irrationality has become a major factor in modern Painting the creation of Art is also function of order and reason, so that only a new interaction with rational process can renew the creation of great Art.


After six hundred years glued to the window the process of Painting has become independent; but the question arises as to whether its form, as a totally independent object and subjective image, can maintain the prestige which it has inherited from history; that is to say, ad also a language about extraneous ideas and sensations. But as extraneous representation in the naturalist tradition became increasingly subjective and ambiguous so the painting itself became increasingly independent.

One of the principal legacies of modern Science on the art of Painting has been a new concept of space. The relativity of space and time, along with that of object and observer, led inevitably to the idea of representation and replaced it with an abstract and ambiguous condition which requires a completely different image.




In this century we have witnessed a revolution of Painting and Sculpture as total as that of the Byzantine style, which destroyed the Graeco-Roman tradition, and also that of the Italian Renaissance, which did likewise to the Byzantines, with a visual, rational and objective naturalism based on science.


Moreover, parallel to the revolution of Painting were radical developments in the concept of Nature by modern science. Not only new ideas like relativity and dialectical-materialism, but also new discoveries in the world of micro physics all combined to make the concept of the natural world either ambiguous, indeterminate, abstract or irrational. It was inevitable, therefore that naturalist Painting would have to start again by turning inwards subjectively.