Vanessa Bell, ‘Abstract Painting’ c.1914
Vanessa Bell
Abstract Painting c.1914
© Estate of Vanessa Bell

Introducing the Structure and Clarity wing, this room brings together works by two artists from different periods and different locations who were both pioneers of abstraction in their own place and time.

Vanessa Bell was one of the first British artists to experiment with abstraction. In the early 1910s her painting was radicalised by her encounter with works by artists such as Cézanne, Gauguin, Picasso and Matisse. ‘Here was a possible path’, she wrote, ‘a sudden liberation and encouragement to feel for oneself, which were absolutely overwhelming.’

Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair’s approach to western abstraction is enriched and complicated by her knowledge of Islamic aesthetics, and by the influence of mathematics and science. Since the mid-1950s Choucair has worked mainly with sculpture, producing several series of modular forms. Works such as Poem Wall are often made up of interlocking pieces. Choucair explores the way in which component pieces relate to the whole, mirroring the structures of Sufi poetry.

Vanessa Bell (1879–1961) was born in London. She lived and worked in Bloomsbury, London and at Charleston in Sussex.

Saloua Raouda Choucair was born in 1916 in Beirut, where she lives and works.

Curated by Matthew Gale and Ann Coxon