Prepare well for the Paul Nash exhibition to if you wish to indulge in a mood of the spiritual.
Paul Nash’s style evolved over his lifetime from his own interpretation of dream-like landscapes, through Cubism, Vorticism, Geometrics and Surrealism to return to symbolic landscape.
The power of Nash’s work resides in his capturing of the spirit of the place and the object to the extent that gallery visitors feel almost a sense of Jungian unconscious collectiveness if they allow themselves to be embraced by Nash’s power of perception.
Nash was an official war artist for both World Wars and we can vividly experience his interpretation of the harsh realities of the front line, the war in the air and the destruction to both man and environment. ‘Sunset and sunrise are blasphemous mockeries to man’. Nevertheless, he seeks the destruction’s redemption for example we read upon his return to the front line ‘nearly all the battered trees have come out and the birds sing all day in spite of the shells and shrapnel’.
Figures are few to be seen, probably only a handful in his WW1 pictures, otherwise his concentration is on the landscape and still life, his contention that in spotting and selecting any ‘found’ object, it is thus given identity and life ‘the action of your perception gave it birth’. ‘There are places, just as there are people and objects and works of art, whose relationship of parts creates a mystery, an enchantment, which cannot be analysed.’
Stand before his ‘Wittenham Clumps’ and consider Nash’s sense of belonging and peace. Compare this to ‘We Are Making a Brave New World’ and our brutality to ourselves and our environment.
Nash unveils our dichotic contradictions and maybe that’s why he concentrated on nature and landscapes and not the human form, even turning man made and man destroyed aeroplanes into a natural sea in ‘Totes Meer’?