Tate St Ives
3 February – 13 May 2007
An extraordinary exhibition of paintings by the popular St Ives artist Bryan Pearce (born 1929), whose particular experiences of his hometown are captured with a unique clarity of vision. Pearce’s artistic developments are unique, his simple renditions of space, colour and light evolving from a sophisticated understanding of composition. Acknowledging a career which spans over fifty years, the exhibition draws together works from private and public collections to evoke a serene sense of place, which seems at once personal yet archetypal.
Pearce was born in St Ives, Cornwall, a sufferer of the then unknown condition Phenylketonuria, which affects the normal development of the brain. Encouraged by his mother, who was herself a painter, and then by other St Ives artists, he began drawing and painting in watercolours in 1953. From 1953 to 1957 he attended St Ives School of Painting under the Director Leonard Fuller. In 1957 Pearce began painting in oils and started to exhibit regularly at the Penwith Gallery in St Ives.
His regular walks around St Ives, where he has lived all his life, have been the inspiration for his subject matter, unconsciously recording the town’s subtle changes. He has always worked slowly, but consistently, producing perhaps twelve oil paintings a year. Often compared to Alfred Wallis, the late Peter Lanyon has said of him: ‘Because his sources are not seen with a passive eye, but are truly happenings, his painting is original.’
Now one of the country’s foremost living naive painters, Pearce is well know for portraying the local St Ives landscape and still-life compositions in oil, conte, pen and ink, and pencil.