To mark the 100th year since the birth of British painter John Wells (1907 ' 2000) Tate St Ives will be presenting a selection of his work from private collections and the Tate Collection.
This small display highlights some of the artistic concerns of this intensely private man. Born 27 July 1907 in London, Wells qualified as a Doctor from University College London. During a visit to Cornwall in 1928 he studied briefly with Stanhope Alexander Forbes in Newlyn and was introduced to Ben and Winifred Nicholson and Christopher Wood. He was the GP for the Scilly Isles from 1936 to 1945, when during his occasional visits to Nicholson and Hepworth in St Ives, he met Naum Gabo, who became a major and lasting influence upon him. At the end of World War Two he chose to pursue a career as a full-time artist, buying one of Forbes former studios in Newlyn. Wells employed different techniques to create works of pure abstraction, generally with suggestions of natural sources. He used the principles of the Golden Section, a structure based on ideal proportions, to achieve balance of line, mass, and colour.
Though living in Newlyn, Wells was at the centre of artistic activity in post-war St Ives. He was a founder member of the Crypt Group in 1946 and of the Penwith Society of Artists in Cornwall in 1949. Wells exhibited widely in London, Paris, Sao Paolo and New York as well as St Ives, and in 1965 he acquired a second studio in Newlyn which he shared for nearly thirty years with the sculptor Denis Mitchell.