Bryan Wynter (British, 1915-1975) Sea Journey 142.3 x 111.8 cm. (56 x 44 in.) (unframed) (Painted in 1958)
Lot 54AR
Bryan Wynter
(British, 1915-1975)
Sea Journey 142.3 x 111.8 cm. (56 x 44 in.) (unframed)
£40,000 - 60,000
US$ 53,000 - 79,000

Lot Details
Bryan Wynter (British, 1915-1975)
Sea Journey
oil on canvas
142.3 x 111.8 cm. (56 x 44 in.)
(unframed)
Painted in 1958

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Dr. Damiano
    Design Research Unit, London
    Sale; Christie's, London, 26 October 1994, lot 155
    Williams & Glyn Bank
    Paul Bedford
    With Robert Sandelson, London
    Private Collection, U.K.

    Exhibited
    London, Waddington Galleries, Bryan Wynter, Recent Paintings, 10 March-4 April 1959, cat.no.15
    London, Arts Council of Great Britain, Hayward Gallery, Bryan Wynter, Paintings, Kinetics and works on Paper, 1915–1975, 5–30 August 1976, cat.no.41 (ill., pl.7)

    Sea Journey was first exhibited at Waddington Galleries in 1959. Michael Bird comments that the exhibition 'contained a series of virtuoso all over paintings in which this manner of working, popularly believed to be a chance-governed affair, attained classic status' (Michael Bird, Bryan Wynter, Lund Humphries, Farnham, 2010, p.119). Such was the impact of Wynter's exhibition that in reviewing the concurrent Abstract Expressionism blockbuster New American Paintings at the Tate, it was declared that there is just 'one serious challenge to American dominance of the London scene – namely, Bryan Wynter' ('American Explosion', Art and Artists, vol.1, no.5, May 1959).

    The 'classic status' awarded to these works is intertwined with the personal mythologies that surround Wynter himself. Greatly fabled is a practice he developed in the late 1950s of psychedelic self experimentation.Methodically he would set aside a twelve-hour window and dose himself with a carefully measured amount of prescribed mescaline. It would be foolhardy to suggest that Wynter's work of the 1950s is in anyway directly related to such experiments, however, his desire to challenge the accepted perceptual experience of life is a recurrent one; and one that is certainly palpable in the present canvas.

    Wynter was relentlessly curious and particularly when it came to visual experience. He was fascinated by stereoscopic photography's ability to transform two dimensional images into three dimensional spaces. Underwater photography was of great interest to him, indeed he constructed a home-made aqualung to explore the submarine world. In his own photography of the 1950s it was the textures and tones of nature provided by his Cornish surroundings which, through severe cropping, transform into abstracted compositions.

    It is this cacophony of sensory experience which give rise to the aesthetic of his seminal late '50s canvases. The present example, resplendent in a particularly harmonious palette, is especially outstanding. The title informs us that we are entering an oceanic environment, yet it is suggestive rather than resolving. The rhythmically worked sprays of blue lifted with high notes of orange and ochre, pink and peach across a bold scale, are bewitchingly transformative. The result unquestionably achieves that which Wynter states is his ideal:

    'to make paintings which throw off imagery of different kinds at different times to different people, continually unfolding different aspects of themselves, ambiguous and paradoxical paintings with no main 'theme', from which the spectator may, by participation, extract his own images.' (Bryan Wynter, Statements, unpublished, Loc.Cit.).
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