On the event of Terry Frost’s (1915–2003) centenary, this special exhibition brings together a selection of the artist’s most significant paintings, collages and sculptural forms from public and private collections across the UK. Looking at Frost’s work through ideas of performance, construction and colour, the exhibition takes a fresh perspective on his practice over six decades. This timely retrospective has been developed in collaboration with Leeds Art Gallery and Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange.
Living in St Ives during the 1950s, Frost was part of a close circle of emerging British modernists working with abstraction, including Roger Hilton, Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon and Bryan Wynter. The exhibition will highlight key paintings and collages from Terry Frost’s formative periods working in Cornwall and Yorkshire, including paintings from his breakthrough Walk Along the Quay series, begun in 1950. These tall, thin canvases are evocative of the seaside town of St Ives. In contrast are the large-scale paintings such as Blue Winter 1956 and Orange and Black, Leeds 1957, painted in response to the Yorkshire Dales, after his move to Leeds.
After discovering acrylic paint while teaching in California in the 1960s, Frost became increasingly interested in colour as a presence or character in itself. Looped and heaped weights of colour seemingly bulge from his canvases, sometimes becoming three-dimensional in his collages or sculpture. In 1970 Frost developed a range of ‘soft sculptures’ including stacks, spirals and loops, made from painted canvas tubes filled with polystyrene balls. Suspending these arcing forms from the walls and ceiling, or bundling them together, he sought to bring out colour in all its intensity without hard structure or flat surface – as a brushstroke in space. The exhibition will feature a re-commissioned series of these little-known, strikingly contemporary three dimensional works.
The exhibition is being shown at Newlyn Art Gallery & the Exchange because of the temporary closure of Tate St Ives from 5 October 2015 – 20 May 2016. Previously shown at Leeds Art Gallery 19 June – 30 August 2015.