Catalogue entry

Jeremy Moon 1934–1973

T01841 Trellis 1962

Inscribed ‘No 7/62/—/4/62/ 54 x 42/JM’ on the back.
Canvas, 54 A. 42(138 106.5).
Purchased through the Rowan Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1974.

Although the painting is not inscribed with a title by the artist, nor has it been given a title in his records, Alex Gregory-Hood told the compiler (letter of 25 April 1974) that it was called ‘Trellis’. The artist’s records state the painting to be at his studio, however it was in fact stored at the Rowan Gallery from the time of Moon’s first exhibition there in 1963 until it was purchased by the Tate Gallery. In the same letter Alex Gregory-Hood wrote ‘I decided quite early on not to sell “Trellis” as it was such an interesting painting to compare with Jeremy’s paintings as his work evolved, also to what was being done in 1962 in America.’

The painting is inscribed ‘7/62’ but reading left to right across the page, it comes sixth on the first sheet of the artist’s illustrated record of his work. The eight pictures in this group are, in that order, ‘Study for Painting with Crosses’, ‘Oriole’, ‘Blue View’, ‘Hawk’, ‘Red Chord’, ‘Trellis’ (no title given), ‘Fragmented Cross’ and ‘Chart’. ‘Oriole’, ‘Hawk’ and ‘Red Chord’ were shown in Moon’s first one-man exhibition at the Rowan Gallery, but the present work has not previously been exhibited.

All these paintings were in one way or another concerned with crosses and circles. For example in ‘Study for Painting with Crosses’ the five circles form a diagonal cross and one of them is itself crossed out.

In ‘Oriole’ and ‘Hawk’ the circles are positioned two and two, to form an inner rectangle at the end of long, search-light-like beams which move inwards from the corners unifying and carving up the surface in terms of huge crosses. These lines and circles are used in a different but closely related way in the grid of ‘Trellis’. Other connected themes are the relation of depicted rectangles to the rectangle of the picture as a whole (looking forward to his shaped canvases) and the way in which, like one flag superimposed upon another, the image as gestalt has an ambiguous relationship to the picture surface, being simultaneously emblematic and structural.

Surviving preliminary drawings for a number of these works suggest that they were probably without exception constructed with relation to a simple basic grid structure. In one sketch for ‘Oriole’ the image of beam and dot is placed in deliberately non-geometric foreshortened relation to a central diamond and a diagonal cross. In another the motif is tried out on graph paper. In drawings for ‘Chart’ a regular grid of circles is diagonally superimposed on a central linear rectangle, another drawing is titled ‘grid with shape missing’, a third is called ‘picture within canvas’. However ‘Trellis’ is the only one of these paintings where the grid is explicit rather than implied or partially concealed, and as such may perhaps count as the artist’s first true grid picture.

There are seven small drawings for ‘Trellis’ clipped together in the artist’s file of drawings dated ‘end of 1961 and beginning of 1962’. The ‘Trellis’ drawings are chiefly in colour. (Yellow, black and white—the colours of the present painting – were often used in drawings at this time.) Two have the same grid as the painting of 6 x 5 circles. One of them is a careful pencil drawing with a note beside it saying ‘orange dots ?’. Other drawings have a 5 x 4 dot grid, a 4 x 3 dot grid, a 5 x 5 dot grid without margin (both in colour), and a 8 x 6 dot grid (in pencil without lines). Finally there is a checkerboard drawing of yellow lines which run right up to the dots (in colour) leaving only very small white rectangles around them.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.