Bell and Grant were two of the first abstract painters in Britain, and, even when they were creating figurative and representational work, the abstract qualities of colour remained a dominant element.
Drawing on loans from private and public collections, the show will feature works by some of the greatest painters of the last century including; Eileen Agar, Robert Bevan, Francis Cadell, Patrick Caulfield, Robert Dukes, Mary Fedden, Mark Gertler, Patrick Heron, John Hoyland, Stanislawa de Karlowska, Paul Nash, Glyn Warren Philpot and Sean Scully, as well as the Bloomsbury artists; Bell, Grant and Roger Fry.
Virginia Woolf called her sister Vanessa Bell “a poet whose medium was colour.” The Bloomsbury group’s modernist treatment of colour broke with accepted artistic conventions of the day. The freedom of abstraction allowed Bell and Grant to play with colour and shape in new ways; their paintings typical of the 20th century move towards colour dominating composition. This abstract idiom provides a new context for examining the painting of the Bloomsbury group, as radical painters who saw colour as the most vital component of an image.
Cressida Bell says: ‘My personal sense of colour has inevitably been influenced by being brought up in a Bloomsbury environment. The house at Charleston is a joyous celebration of colour, using a palette that manages to be both vibrant and subtle. My selection of works for this show attempt to reflect this aesthetic. I have chosen works where the most fundamental factor in the composition is colour and where a scheme of colours is imposed on the painting, rather than occurring naturally in the subject.’