Summary

Drawing [‘68] is one of a group of fourteen works in pencil and oil pastel in Tate’s collection (T12222T12235) by the abstract artist Jeremy Moon. This drawing comprises a grid defined in yellow lines that forms an uneven quadrilateral. Some of the twenty-six spaces between the grid lines are coloured red and black, others are left uncoloured. An imagined diagonal line of symmetry that cuts across the form creates the illusion that the lower part of the quadrilateral mirrors the upper part.

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, in terms of their treatment of space, colour and form. The simplified blocks, grids and stripes that characterise T12222T12235 also occur in the works on canvas, including the early painting Trellis 1962 (T01841), and Untitled 2/72 1972 (T02052).

However, in the 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.

(Martin, p.301.)


Moon’s working practice was methodical and most of the drawings are dated. He signed T12223 and recorded the year of execution along the lower right edge of the support, but he often inscribed drawings with a month and day as well as a year. Some of the drawings in this group 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.

Further reading:
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.

Alice Sanger
July 2009