Ian Stephenson

Polychromatic G


Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1270 x 1270 mm
frame: 1342 x 1342 x 48 mm
Purchased 1962

Catalogue entry


Not inscribed.
Canvas, 50×50 (127×127).
Purchased from the New Art Centre (Grant-in-Aid) 1962.
Exh: New Art Centre, May–June 1962 (16, repr.).
Repr: Studio, CLXIII, 1962, p.236.

The artist wrote (20 June 1962) that this painting was completed in the spring of 1961. In the same letter he explained that he had been concerned with the problem of modern art in relation to tradition, the development from Impressionism towards abstraction. He sought to maintain ‘painting localized in things rather than universal in application’. There was also the element of ambiguity, symbolized in this picture by the letter ‘G’ which could be equated with ‘gravity, Gagarin, Giusti etc. Especially the latter, a non-dramatic échorché figure from which a series of paintings have been particularized.’ The picture also includes the letters ‘f’ and ‘o’.

Giusti, so called after the maker's name, is a two-foot high anatomical model in the artist's studio. Made of plaster, this battered figure of a man twisting and stretching displays the muscular tensions of the body. It is the changing forms and shadows cast by this figure which find an echo in the artist's work and provide the reference outside the painting that he feels to be necessary. (See Alan Bowness, ‘Ian Stephenson’ in Studio, CLXIII, 1962, pp.236–7.

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