In 1953, the year he painted Moon in Landscape, Bryan Wynter was making a double transition. After five years during which, through a series of shows at the Redfern Gallery, he had built a reputation as a Neo-romantic landscape watercolourist, he was working increasingly in oil paint on board. He was also leaving behind his earlier, largely figural idiom, indebted equally to Georges Braque and surrealist automatism, for a more abstract approach, focusing on visual structures and fluid qualities of mark-making. Already well aware of French tachisme, Wynter had been impressed by Nicolas de Staël’s solo exhibition in London in 1952. He was regularly commuting from his moorland home near Zennor to Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, where he taught alongside his St Ives contemporaries Peter Lanyon and Terry Frost, both of whom were developing their own distinctive versions of landscape-based abstraction. In the thrust and balance of its interplay between verticals and horizontals, Moon in Landscape anticipates Wynter’s Dark Landscape of the following year (Tate collection, London), in which recognisable landscape features – a patchwork of fields, a hill horizon, a pearly moon – have been replaced by a complex choreography of marks that draw attention to themselves primarily as paint and secondarily, suggestively as an experience (rather than a view) of landscape. In Moon in Landscape, Wynter’s growing tendency to think in phenomenological terms about both his art and his environment is approaching tipping point. His great abstract canvases of the later 1950s, and the kinetic constructions or IMOOS that followed would contain many moon-like images. But this must have been one of the last times he invited the viewer to picture an actual moon rising over the fields.
We are very grateful to Michael Bird for preparing this catalogue entry.