Born in Chesham, Surrey, Victor Pasmore (1908-1998) is known to be one of the leading protagonists of
the twentieth-century abstract art movement, and who fuelled what is described by historian Herbert
Read as “the most revolutionary event in post-war British art.” As from an early age, Victor Pasmore
showed unmistakable promise in the art of landscape painting – a practice which he developed further
through his enrolment at Harrow School and his studies on the French Impressionists.
Despite a ten-year set-back, during which he could not practice as a full-time artist, Pasmore continued to paint, study and experiment, attended evening classes at the Central School of Art, played a key role in the foundation of the Euston Road School, and joined the London Artists’ Association – a principal organisation which placed him on the front-line of the modern British art scene. Victor Pasmore influenced the direction of British art through his method, his thought and teaching. Indeed, although Pasmore did not have a formal academic background in art himself, he held several prestigious academic posts, among which were his commitments as director of painting at Camberwell School of Art (1943-1949), as a lecturer at the London Central School of Arts and Crafts (1949), and as Head of the Department of Painting at Durham University (1953-1961), where he introduced a ground-breaking foundation course in basic form, The Developing Process, thus bringing the outdated British art education system out of the clutches of the past. Victor Pasmore began to truly garner international fame as an abstract artist particularly through his participation in the Venice Biennale of 1960. This also set the scene for a chance encounter with Malta, where, following the acquisition and adaptation of a farmhouse in Gudja in 1966, he was later to permanently live, together with his wife, Wendy. During his stay in Malta, Pasmore established several close friendships with Maltese artists and intellectuals, and continued to actively search for new relationships in form, colour, space and meaning, up until his death in 1998. The result was an extremely prolific and influential career, replete with hundreds of creations which respond to Pasmore’s unwavering belief that each piece is indeed, a unique and autonomous object – a new discovery.
“As Head of Department of Painting at Newcastle, I was in a unique position
of being able to establish this experiment as a major factor in the school curriculum. The reasoning
behind my insistence on this was that in schools of painting and sculpture in London and throughout the
country there was no connection between the antiquated nineteenth century teaching and the revolutionary
devlopmentin modern art. In my mind the course was nothing more than an attempt to set the ball rolling
to bring art teaching up to date.” – Victor Pasmore
“What I have done is not the process of abstraction
from nature but a method of constructing from within.”
– Victor Pasmore, The Artist Speaks documentary, 1951