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Victor Pasmore at the Pallant Gallery

Recently I visited the Pallant Gallery which is a local gallery to me in Chichester. In the last couple of months they have made it free admission for students, which I think is so important to take advantage of! A while ago I volunteered for a period of time at the galley as a room steward, which meant every couple of weeks I would go along for 3/4 hours and stand in various rooms as a help point for visitors. This meant that I had a lot of time to look at the artwork myself, therefore I am very familiar with lots of the permanent pieces of art.

On this occasion is was Victor Pasmores work being exhibited. He was recognised in his early career as a figurative painter, but he slowly became more interested in abstract art and printing making. The exhibition showed this radical transition which happened in the late 1940’s/1950’s. Art Historian, Herbert Read described Pasmores journey as ‘the most revolutionary event in post-war British art.’ 

As my current work is very abstract based I was mostly drawn to his later pieces which involved an interesting use of shape, colour and mark making. One paining I liked was called ‘Rectangular Motif in Red and Mustard’ (1950) When reading up on this piece was part of a series I learnt that they all originally had different titles which suggested inspiration from natural phenomena, however later on they were retitiled by Pasmore to disaccosiate them from any hint of representational content. I found this really interesting because it sort of implies that Pasmore did not want to tell the viewer what they were looking at, yet he would rather leave it completely up to the personal imagination. This is very different from his earlier portrait work, which is very clear on what the subject matter is. 

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I can relate to this in my own practice, as in this final project a big part of my work is how it’s interpreted by the viewer and I’m not telling them what they see but leaving it up to them to decipher. One idea I’ve had is to put a feedback box next to my piece, giving people the opportunity to tell me what they see in my work. There are a few ways I could do this, either leaving it completely up to them what they write or I could focus it a lot more with a more specific approach to the responses I want. 

There were also a few of Pasmores sculptural pieces at the gallery which really took my interest due to his use of materials and composition. I really liked the use of clear acrylic plastic and also mirror. Using mirror within sculpture has always fascinated me because of its power to transform the dimensions of a piece. 

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The day after I saw this work I sourced some acrylic in college. I remembered back to my earlier plastics workshop and I thought that melting it and moulding it to my desired shapes could be really affective. I used the plastics oven and heated the acrylic pieces to a temperature where it was completely flexible for me to manipulate. I tried various different ways of moulding it and the results felt really dynamic like they were mid flow of movement.