Drawing [18/7/71] is one of a group of fourteen works in pencil and oil pastel in Tate’s collection (T12222–T12235) by the abstract artist Jeremy Moon. This drawing comprises a rectangular frame crossed by five upright yellow bars. Between the yellow bars, a series of black lines creates an apparently random pattern. Some of the black lines are drawn as if behind the bars and others slightly overlap the frame.
Drawings formed a very significant part of Moon’s output and Tate’s examples, produced between 1967 and 1973, date from the latter part of the artist’s short career. Moon was one of a generation of British abstract painters that emerged in the early 1960s and included Robyn Denny (born 1930) and John Hoyland (born 1934). Their work, which owed much to American Hard-Edge and Colour Field painting, was large scale, colourful and rigorously non representational. Despite their small size, Moon’s drawings share many of the concerns of his paintings, at least in their treatment of space, colour and form. The simplified blocks, grids and stripes that characterise T12222–T12235 also occur in the works on canvas, including the early painting Trellis 1962 (T01841), and Untitled 2/72 1972 (T02052), for which the artist produced numerous preparatory studies.
However, in his drawings, Moon deployed loosely defined forms with lines that are softened by the use of pastels, making them distinct from the more strictly geometric shapes and sharp edges that characterise his paintings. Writing in 1976, artist Barry Martin commented:
Against the needle-sharp concentration [Moon’s] paintings appeared to have required, his small, freely executed pastel drawings come as something of a shock. These exquisite works are diametrically different from the paintings. Different because the small sketches served the purpose of extending the artist’s visualization of painting ... Broadly placed, the marks are often overlaid by others of another hue giving the shapes and lines a broken, rugged appearance and allowing colours to ‘bleed’ one to another.
Some of the works in this group of drawings have only recently been rediscovered. They were filed by Moon in his studio, and then remained undisturbed there for some thirty years following his death in a motorcycle accident in 1973.
Barry Martin, ‘Jeremy Moon Retrospective’, Studio International, vol.191, no.981, May/June 1976, pp.300–1.
Jeremy Moon – A Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, Arts Council, London 2001.
Janet MacKenzie, ‘Mr Jeremy Moon Experiments. Jeremy Moon: Drawings and Collage,’ Studio International, May 2005, http://www.studio-international.co.uk/search/index.asp
, accessed 30 July 2009.