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Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: Late Works

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Jackie Wullschlager reviews the exhibition Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: In Perspective: The Late Works at Art First, London, on view through May 17, 2014.

Wullschlager writes: "From the mid-20th century, Barns-Graham was a distinguished if not innovative abstract painter. Born and trained in Scotland, she moved to St Ives in 1940 and absorbed the modernist rigour of Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. Her mid-career work, when she was lonely and professionally neglected, is a push-pull between a slightly precious geometric abstraction and a freer style and flair for colour. In old age, when she had returned to work in Scotland, painterly expressiveness won. The large-scale 'Easter Series, Two Brushstrokes' (2000), the highlight here, is a stunner: two huge, sweeping marks, dark blue and white, slashing upwards through a turquoise ground with the inevitability of waves beating the shore, furious, crashing, then ebbing into something gentler, resolved."

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