John Virtue, 'Landscape No.507', 1997-8.
London, Private Collection.
© John Virtue. Photo: Lisson Gallery.
John Virtue was invited to become the
sixth National Gallery Associate Artist because of his long-standing engagement with the European landscape tradition, represented in the collection by artists such as Rubens, Ruisdael, Turner and Constable. At the time of the invitation, Virtue was living in Devon, making paintings of the landscape around the River Exe, which made reference to Old Master paintings.
In Landscape No.507, for example, there is a tiny black upright towards the centre of the painting, representing a distant church tower. This is strikingly reminiscent of Constable's similar use of church towers in works such as 'The Cornfield'.
Virtue's painting also shows affinities with American Abstract Expressionism and the Japanese Zen calligraphers.