Frank Avray Wilson (1914 – 2009)

Lead On

Signed and titled verso

Oil on canvas

150 x 45 cm ( 59 x 17.7 ins)

Wilson was born in Mauritius, the son of a sugar manufacturer. He was educated at Brighton College and St. John’s College Cambridge. He was one of the first British artists to use the French style of abstract painting known as Tachism which he was exposed to on his travels to Paris in 1946 after the war. He was also an early proponent of action painting where the paint is dribbled, smeared or splashed on to the canvas. He used his biology degree and scientific knowledge to explore the idea that colour is energy and not a matter and that an image could be as alive as a living cell under a microscope.

In 1953 he met Denis Bowen, the South African artist and they formed the legendary New Vision Group and later the New Vision Centre Gallery near Marble Arch. This was to show radical artistic expressionist works from mainly refugee painters of Polish and Jewish German descent. His first solo show was held in 1954 at the Obelisk Gallery. He was included in the influential touring exhibition La Peinture Anglaise Contemporaine organized by the British Council. He was included in shows in Europe and New York and shortlisted for the John Moores Painting Prize in Liverpool in 1959. During the 1950’s and 60’s he had twelve one man shows in London.

Lead on is an exceptional example of one of Wilson’s works and is typical of his use of vibrant and intense primary colours and perspicacious use of black paint. Wilson gives the feeling of light shining through the canvas and gives the impression of life.