Catalogue entry

N06069 POISSONS DE L'ESCOUTAY 1951
 
Inscr. ‘Hayter 51’ b.r.
Canvas, 21 1/2×58 1/4 (55×148).
Purchased from the artist (Knapping Fund) 1952.
Exh: Whitechapel Art Gallery, November 1957 (56, repr. pl.27).
Lit: ‘Quel Paysage avez-vous choisi?’ in Arts, Paris, No.368, 10 July 1952, p.10, repr. as ‘Paysage abstrait’.

Painted in the summer of 1951, when the artist bought a house at Alba in the Ardèche; he continued to paint there throughout subsequent summers. ‘Alba has greatly influenced Hayter's colour - an increased brilliance and heightened interest in light, deriving possibly from a preoccupation with L'Escoutay, a nearby stream. Began to use metallic colours (first experimented with in 1929) to get two alternative views of a picture according to the spectator's vantage point - like a positive and negative - and found that the practice transformed all colours used in such a painting’ (Whitechapel Art Gallery exh. cat., 1957, p.10).

In an interview published in Arts (loc. cit.) the artist said in reply to a question about his interest in water: ‘The trajectory of movement is more clearly defined in water. I can follow the laws of space better in the substance of water which is dense and at the same time fluid - But does this trajectory indicate pursuit? - Naturally, life is a pursuit, work is a pursuit. It is not the goal that impassions me but the pursuit towards a creation, the value of which is indifferent to me.’

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I