Paul Nash’s paintings of the front line during the First World War are very well-known but now there’s an opportunity to see an exhibition spanning his lifetime’s work in the north-east.
Nash (1889-1946) served briefly in Belgium in 1917 as part of the Artists’ Rifles. The sketches he made during this period resulted in him being appointed as an official War Artist. Nash was primarily a landscape artist interested in how to align the tradition of British landscape painting with the new artistic modes coming from Europe. On his return to the trenches, he produced images of a landscape destroyed by war – mud, blasted trees, desolation, human beings diminished by the destruction around them. Many of these paintings are familiar from books, television programmes and online (www.artuk.org) but the original paintings have an impact way beyond the illustrations we have become used to seeing.
The exhibition follows Nash’s career through the inter-war years and into his second stint as an official War Artist during the Second World War. His wartime experiences in the trenches probably coloured the rest of his life and work – his letters to his wife reveal his fury and horror at what he experienced during WWI.
The Laing Gallery in Newcastle is showing an exhibition of work by Paul Nash until 14th January 2018 – see www.laingartgallery.org.uk for opening times and charges.