Paul Nash

Paul Nash at the Tate Liverpool: Modern artist, ancient landscape

Two part major exhibition on this summer

There has not been a major exhibition in England of Nash’s work since 1989, so it is good news that the Tate is having one this summer (23 July-19 October). There are two main draws for this exhibition—the first is the gathering together of painting cycles separated soon after their completion. The second is the display of previously unseen photographs and archive material from the Tate’s collection. Nash shocked contemporary audiences with his graphic portrayal of trench life and death in World War I. During the interwar period, he became influenced by Surrealism and abstraction, collaborating with Ben Nicholson. Nash was also interested in notions of the Englishness of the landscape, especially with regard to the influence of modern technology. In the final part of his career, he imported Surrealism into his landscape painting. Thus one series of paintings is on the Megaliths, incorporating at a stroke abstraction, surrealism and the love of the landscape—the interpretation of which was in the process of being opened up by advances in contemporary archaeology. In his sunflower series, painted in his final year, one can see the zenith of his artistic arc (above, “The eclipse of the sunflower”, 1945, oil on canvas).

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 138 July 2003