Catalogue entry

John Plumb b. 1927
T01156 UNTITLED AUGUST 1969
Not inscribed.

Aquatec on cotton duck, 100×99¾ (254×253.5).
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1969.

The artist wrote (19 January 1970): ‘This painting is one of the new works dealing with a problem which developed out of the concern for literalness in purely visual terms. A lot of abstract painting, my own included, from the early 60s onwards was concerned with setting up allusory values, i.e., the means being linked with some kind of experience in human, i.e., emotional, terms. The involvement being essentially tragic and constantly linked with abstract expressionist values. The act of painting was essentially concerned with incisive and contextual reaction. The result being of oneness and field situations formally. The paintings were intended to be read from edge to edge and the less that happened on the surface the more the intention seemed to have meaning, in fact “less meant more”. I wanted to change this situation, planting into the act of painting less incisive choice and reaction. The colour now has to be serialised or random (in this painting it is serialised) running through a spectrum sequence and then stepping down in hue to run partly through it again. I wanted to use an element which is uncommon in other paintings so that splitting of a horizontal bar or stripe to give a long pennant shape was just what I wanted. Also this structural system gives the colour a chance to increase its chordal intensity as it traverses the negative surface of the cotton duck. The obviousness of the sequence of colour is an important part of the intention as it removes the mood or tragic emotional element from the painting and the work becomes totally about itself.’

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1968-70, London 1970