Richard Moss reviews the exhibition Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War at Pallant House Gallery, on view through June 15, 2014.
Moss writes: "Sometimes Spencer casts these self-contained figures as celestial angels or Jesus and the apostles and the parallels with the complicated inner world he created in his beloved Cookham are unmistakeable. At times it seems as though each cherubic figure is the artist incarnate – an innocent locked into his own peculiar world. In this sense Spencer seems like a Blakean figure – complicated and curious – painting strange yet familiar forms that inhabit a place of his own making… The textures are impressive too; the towels, the sponges, the cotton sheets are all rendered in surprizing detail. Intricacies such as the reflections in the water spilled by the soldier as he washes, or the light dappling the interior of a bell tent show the extraordinary amount of care and attention Spencer invested in his painting."