Details & Cataloguing

Modern & Post-War British Art


Victor Pasmore, R.A.
signed with initials on the reverse
oil on panel
122 by 122cm.; 48 by 48in.
Executed in 1971.
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Marlborough Galleria d'Arte, Rome, 1974
New Art Centre, London
Sale, Christie's London, 10th November 1989, lot 365, where acquired by the present owner 


Rome, Marlborough Gallery, Victor Pasmore, 1971, cat. no.30, illustrated;
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Victor Pasmore, The Image in Search of Itself: New Paintings 1969-71, February - March 1972, cat. no.30, illustrated front cover.


Alan Bowness and Luigi Lambertini, Victor Pasmore, with a Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Constructions and Graphics 1926-1979, Thames and Hudson, London, 1980, cat. no.497, illustrated.

Catalogue Note

Victor Pasmore is regarded as one of Britain’s most innovative artists, achieving acclaim as both a figurative and abstract painter. Abandoning visual representation by the late 1940s, he is best known for pioneering the development of abstract art in Britain through his constructivist reliefs, made from wood, plastic and aluminium. As a teacher at Newcastle University in the 1960s, his Basic Design course altered art teaching in Britain, especially in terms of what an artwork could be and what material it could be made of.

However, Pasmore never abandoned the medium of painting completely and eventually found the use of relief construction too narrow and limiting for his ideas. His continuing experimentation with structure and form eventually led him back to his brush; his works softened, and painterly, natural forms and curves began to emerge combined with a vibrant colour palette. In 1960 we see the emergence of single massive shapes in his square paintings (see Yellow Abstract, 1960-61, Tate, London) and by 1971, when Blue Mandala was painted, changing amoeba-like forms were dominating his work. This move to organic abstract forms coincided with Pasmore's permanent relocation to Malta in 1966-7 and the calm, deep vibrant blues of this work are reminiscent of the variations in the colour of the sea glowing in the Mediterranean light. The title given to this work, Mandala, meaning 'circle' in Sanskrit usually refers to a complex abstract design, circular in nature, which balances visual elements  resonating from a central point, in this case the dense black circle at the centre of the composition. Mandalas were thought to represent the connection between our inner worlds and outer reality and to symbolise unity and harmony.

The simple organic forms in Blue Mandala appear soft and malleable, giving the impression they are alive and on the move, slowly expanding to fill the available space. The seemingly heavier mass, painted in a rich deep blue pigment, has defied gravity dominating the upper half of the work, floating above the softer, lighter shape, which is coloured in a pale blue pigment, applied so thinly it is rendered translucent in places. These forms, with their blurred borders never quite touch, but seem to be constantly on the move, hovering next to each other within the confines of the canvas. Pasmore has carefully achieved these effects through the use of a spray gun; by contrast, his brush renders with an almost oriental precision, the black, solid, rod-like objects, which hold the softer forms in a perfect balance or tension.

Modern & Post-War British Art