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In a letter written in 1992 John Wells singled out Aspiring Forms as his favourite painting. Painted in 1950, it is one of his largest works and reflects his increasing confidence in his work. The composition follows the principle of the Golden Section, a structure based on ideal proportions that Wells used repeatedly. Its corkscrew forms describe the movement of the birds he watched wheeling around the cliffs of west Cornwall. 'You can see them using the air currents,' he said. 'You can feel the dynamism of their flight and the shapes of their wings all the time.'

September 2004