Live Virtual Auction, 7 - 8 November 2021
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About this Item
‘Douglas Portway’s stay in St Ives incited him to a great number of compositions in which strict geometric shapes make their appearance, as if Portway had imbibed the tradition of [Naum] Gabo, [Ben] Nicholson, [Barbara] Hepworth, in order to test the other side of artistic experience rather than to follow the genius loci. This becomes clear when one compares one of Ben Nicholson’s early constructivist compositions with on of Portway’s works [such as the present lot]. Ben Nicholson’s conception, masterly as it is and clear to the mind as a geometric statement or a logical deduction, is executed with an amazing exactness and definiteness. Douglas Portway’s painting, on the other hand documents the circulation of the blood in a warm body, it is a pulsating event, an emotional evidence of that realm of experience which has its roots in the undefinable. So we have on the one hand a mathematical equation as if by Euclid and on the other a mystical statement as of an Eckhart. Both are human but the one is produced by the brain and tastes exclusively aesthetic, the other by the perceiving hand.’1
1. JP Hodin (1983) Douglas Portway: A Painter’s Life, Philadelphia: The Art Alliance Press, page 72.