Red, Black and White signed, inscribed and dated 'I. Red Black + White/Terry Frost/57.' (verso) oil on canvas 61 x 76.5 cm. (24 x 30 in.)
Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist by the family of the present owner in the late 1950s
Sharing its title with two paintings executed in 1955, both of which were exhibited at Tate St Ives' exhibition, Terry Frost, The Leeds Connection, in the spring of 2003, Red, Black and White was painted two years later, during 1957, when Frost was teaching at Leeds College of Art.
The move from Cornwall to Yorkshire in 1954 engendered a change in Frost's style and palette, inspired by the landscape that surrounded Leeds. Whilst out walking on the snow-covered hills one day, with the art critic Herbert Read, Frost witnessed a fleeting moment of fantastic sunlight streaming through a small wood. The imagery of this experience had such an impact on the artist that he felt compelled to document it using paint. The immediate result that Frost specifically refers to was Red, Black and White, painted in 1956 (illustrated in David Lewis et al, Terry Frost, Scolar Press, Aldershot, 2000, p. 67). However, he goes on to comment:
'I didn't come back and just paint the picture. I never was able to do that. I never wished to do that. I always have to absorb the moments and then let them go, for I have to make the idea, the discovery. Sometimes I go for a couple of years before I get clean as it were and discover the moment again in paint.' (Op. Cit. p. 66)
Looking at the present lot therefore, it is interesting to observe that the artist two years on from the event was still passionately immersed with this one, brief encounter with the play of light on a snowy landscape. The hexagon, which Patrick Heron commented gave these paintings an originality and freshness of their own, remains the central point of focus in the composition. In contrast to the 1956 oil however, this 1957 painting was completed on smaller scale, on canvas, not board, but is no less rewarding for this. The black vertical lines are more numerous and much finer, with more movement, and are interspersed every so often with ochre and sky blue strokes, which were described by the artist as both interpretations of rays of sunlight and the characteristic lattice of dry stone walls which dominate the local landscape.