In this gouache, Vaughan’s approach to pictorial composition and the placement of objects, is as thoughtful as in his figure paintings. He has achieved a crucial, formalised balance between the represented objects and the intervals established around them. Each is abstracted and simplified, reduced and distilled to a series of essential profiles that carefully counterbalance one another. His unique and economical use of colour is admirably demonstrated here. He has employed only a handful of colours which have have been variously mixed to establish a range of related ochres, greens and lemon yellows. This homogenous approach can be traced back to his wartime painting, when pigments were restricted and he had to vary and extend his palette as best he could.
Vaughan has played off observational drawing and figuration against a systematic organisation of the picture plane and a rigorous management of his composition. It reveals his growing awareness of the painted surface that began to develop around this time when he started to explore the possibilities of gouache and broaden its means of application. Tension developed between the importance of the subject matter and the value of the paint as an expressive medium in its own right. This went of to become one of Vaughan’s central preoccupations as a painter.
We are very grateful to Gerard Hastings for preparing this catalogue entry, whose new book on Keith Vaughan’s graphic art is to be published soon by Pagham Press in Association with the Keith Vaughan Society.