Basil Beattie RA, No Known Way (Janus Series). Oil and wax Photo: John BodkinIn this gallery Basil Beattie has concentrated on works that he regards as ‘essentially abstract’. But he has no intention of ruling out variety. On the contrary, he believes that ‘the challenge has been to allow works of a diverse character and intention to co-exist and hopefully to flourish’.
Beattie’s own paintings, displayed on the end wall, are united by the theme of horizons. Their immense vistas speak of ambitious life-journeys, undertaken in a spirit of uncertainty by wanderers wondering how much time they have left. They seem to look forwards and back simultaneously, like the Roman god Janus who inspired the series.
Nearby, Paul Huxley’s powerful paintings, both called Mutatis Mutandis, are more abstract. But they achieve the ‘point of maximum vividness’ that Beattie admires in art, and some of their forms echo those found in Nigel Hall’s neighbouring sculpture.
Hung on the wall with paintings on either side, Hall’s contribution adds to the gallery’s vitality. As does William Tucker’s monumental green bronze, a robustly-modelled Greek Horse placed on a geometric brown plinth. The bronze may seem abstract at first, but then we discover the horse's head and realise that its mouth is open in a cry of desperation.
Tony Bevan’s paintings are similarly anguished. The larger of the two is difficult to decipher, but the structure it depicts is clearly splintered. So is Bevan’s image of a human head, especially when compared with the composure and stillness of Tess Jaray’s abstracts. And a fascinating sculpture by Tom Phillips, Wittgenstein’s Dilemma II, challenges us to read the metallic words it contains.