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Intelligence Paul Nash Retrospective

Tate Britain’s retrospective on painter Paul Nash traces his evolution from the 1910s until his death in 1947 and chronicles his changing style under influences ranging from William Blake to Surrealists such as de Chirico. The retrospective is extensive, revealing a painter whose interest in various movements left him without a clear style of his own; however; his unique painterly perspective and mind ravaged by two World Wars imbue the works with mystery and eccentricity.

Nash’s paintings of World War I are dynamic and powerful, disorienting the viewer with bold geometric renderings of landscapes decimated by war. The most fascinating room in the exhibition was the one that held Nash's landscapes of the English countryside done directly after the war as he dealt with the fallout of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Nash created would-be bucolic landscapes haunted by conflict: cleft plains echo trenches and ponds dig through hills as aggressive as pits left by grenades.

Nash's paintings of World War II lack the shock value of his World War I works and those immediately following; perhaps having lived through two World Wars robbed him of optimism: the early works scream with terror and the later works show a sort of acceptance of a world of gunmetal and blood.

Credit for thumbnail:
Paul Nash 1889–1946
Landscape from a Dream
1936-8
Tate
©Tate



nash-5

Paul Nash 1889–1946
Blue House on the Shore
1930-1
Oil on canvas
Tate
©Tate


nash-6

Paul Nash 1889–1946
Spring in the Trenches, Ridge Wood, 1917
1918
Imperial War Museum, London
©Tate


nash-7

Paul Nash 1889–1946
Battle of Germany
1944
Imperial War Museum, London
©Tate


nash

Paul Nash 1889–1946
Totes Meer (Dead Sea)
1940-41
Oil on canvas
Support: 1016 x 1524 mm
frame: 1170 x 1680 x 97 mm
Tate. Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee, 1946
nash-2

Paul Nash 1889–1946
Equivalents for the Megaliths
1935
Oil on canvas
support: 457 x 660 mm frame: 627 x 835 x 80 mm
©Tate

nash-9

Paul Nash 1889–1946
The Rye Marshes
1932
Ferens Art Gallery
©Tate

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Posted by
Kerry Lynch