Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Paul Nash


Thanks for calling in.

This week's art talk was about the paintings of Paul Nash relating to the exhibition at Tate Britain. I'm really enjoying these talks and have one more left to look forward to. Here are a few notes I made.

Paul Nash, born 1886 in London, came from a supportive middle class background, destined for the Navy to follow in his Grandfather's footsteps but found this didn't work out and left. He started with black and white pen and ink illustrations attending Chelsea College. His mother fell mentally ill which affected him deeply and he developed a concern with death throughout his life. His family moved to Buckinghamshire to aid her health so he commuted and while cycling used to have visions.

The Wood on the Hill 1912

He started exhibiting his work in 1912, mainly landscapes as he hated life drawing. He met critic Gordon Bottomly and Sir William Blake Richardson who encouraged him. He went to the Slade where he met Ben Nicholson. He married Margaret Odeh before the war but was a philanderer however his wife was a pillar of strength throughout his life.

Wire 1918
During WW1 he was in the TA, was called up and sent to Ypres at a relatively quiet time, he appreciated the arrival of Spring on the desolate landscape but fell in a trench and was sent back to London with a broken rib. While invalided, the majority of his unit were killed. He exhibited work from sketches in the trenches and became an official war artist in 1917 on his return to the trenches where he was supposed to portray the heroism of war but became disillusioned by the unspeakable conditions and showed the devastation and was dropped. He first started using oil paints in 1918.

The Menin Road 1918-19
Between-wars, he was ill, had financial difficulties, travelled looking for sources of inspiration and experimented with surrealism. He loved the South of France for the fabulous colours and thought Giorgio de Chiroco a visionary as he created metaphysical, impossible settings.

Blue House on the Shore 1930-1

In WW2 he became a war artist attached to the Air Ministry in order to paint the machines (monsters). His health got worse and he started to take photos to aid his work. He had a different attitude to the previous war.

Totes Meer 1940-1 note the owl showing nature prevails despite the undulating sea of wreckage

Circle of Monoliths 1937-8
After the war his paintings revert to places he enjoyed before like Wittenham Clumps. He died in 1946.

Landscape of the Summer Solstice 1943
The exhibition is divided into his recurring themes - trees/war - changing world/places/room and book/unit 1/unanimated objects/surrealist exhibition of 1936/aerial/equinox. Nash was influenced by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Blake and Samuel Palmer.  He references the sun, moon and seasons, trees as living beings, saw water as the enemy of man as he nearly drowned when young and he always wanted to fly.

All photos have come from the internet and there's a lot more detailed information available.

I'm linking this post to Barbara's Paint Monthly link-up.



  1. What a fascinating post. I know very little about Paul Nash. Your art talks sound great. I will certainly look out for him next time I visit Tate Britain. B x

    1. It's a shame the talks are finishing as the speaker is brilliant. Hopefully they'll be on next year. x

  2. I absolutely love Paul Nash, I would have liked to see this exhibition but it just wasn't practical for me to get to London this time round. I'm always excited to see his work popping up here and there.

    We attended a show as part of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival all about Paul Nash by artist Dave McKean, it was wonderful.

    1. I've really enjoyed the talks, they just help you to see all the detail. I will have to see if there's anything about that show on the internet. Thanks for visiting.