Tate Britain | Ends 5th March 2017 | £16.50
Wartime landscape painting has been interpreted by many distinguished artists such as L.S Lowry, Henry Moore and John Piper either aiding the use of propaganda in the First World War, or as a lasting memorial to conflict. The Tate Britain's winter exhibition 2016/17 sees Paul Nash take centre stage. The Tate presenting their second Paul Nash retrospective since their 2003 exhibition held in Liverpool.
Nash's distinctive palette, comprising of browns, greens and washed-out pinks, are all considered to be typical colours of the English landscape evoking a true British countryside theme. However, a major influence upon Nash the person and artist was his involvement in 2 World Wars when he was based in France. In the landscape that bore witness to violence and travesty during wartime Nash found a companion that would stay with him until his dying day. As the tide of war wavered his affection of the land grew. Returning to the post he had left due to an injury sustained he noted it's battered appearance resembling that of those who were serving on the frontline.
On his second visit Nash was recognised as an official war artist. Increasingly dismayed at the destruction of the area exposing a wasteland Nash frequently expressed that he was no longer a curious artist, but a mere messenger hoping to convey the potent statement of the horrors of war.
Tate Britain, here, offers much more than Nash the wartime artist, however. We are offered Oxfordshire views, scenes of Berkshire, photography and even sculpture from the artist giving the exhibition greater depth. His work became increasingly abstract and surrealist and was featured in the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936.
There is a notable absence of people in Nash's work. Their presence is invoked as inprints on the landscape alluding to human activity. Often referred to as inconsistent amongst critics, there is no doubting why Nash holds a special place in the modernist movement of his time. Our eyes keep returning to his paintings due to his ability to capture mesmerising scenes in a unique way. When he got it right the results were magnificent...
Spring in the Trenches, Ridge Wood by Paul Nash
The Menin Road 1918 by Paul Nash
Battle of Germany 1944 by Paul Nash
Tates Meer (Dead Sea) 1940-41 by Paul Nash
Landscape at Iden 1929 by Paul Nash
Landscape for a Dream 1936-8 by Paul Nash
Voyages of the Moon 1934-7 by Paul Nash
The Rye Marshes 1932 by Paul Nash
Eclipse of the Sunflower 1945 by Paul Nash