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The Sower the-sower.jpg_product

The Sower

Item Code: DG-sower-u
Width (cm)
Height (cm)
Date of Work
Unsigned acrylic on canvas.

By the late 1960s Greaves painting had changed almost unrecognisably. Shedding the Kitchen Sink moniker, his new style drew upon early years working as a sign-writer’s apprentice. Relinquishing gestural marks and textures of paint, he began instead to combine the bold outlines and expressive colours of Pop with the melancholia which had served his earlier domestic interiors.

The Sower is typical of this new period, produced after a 1967 holiday in Provence. Here, in charcoal sketches made in the heady southern countryside, Greaves invoked the spirit of Van Gogh, for whom the Provençal light and landscape was so important: ‘Every decade or so, I felt I re-understood Van Gogh…It was very odd coming to it through my own work.’

The Sower owes a spiritual and thematic debt to Van Gogh’s many paintings of sowers in fields, and in particular to an 1888 oil of the same title. The thick, impasted golden sun of Van Gogh’s original is transmuted here to a refulgent sphere, brilliant orange offset by a background of purple, its chromatic opposite. The sower himself is reduced to a giant hand, a recurrent visual theme in Greaves’ later paintings, scattering chrome yellow seeds across the breadth of the canvas.

With hard edge and flat colour, The Sower evidences Greaves at a critical stage in his career: abandoning that which had brought him approbation, dismantling his pictorial language, rebuilding the visual remnants into a body of newly expressive, symbolic work.

Read more about this painting here >
Derrick Greaves portraitDerrick Greaves is one of the most important British painters of the last half century, initially gaining acclaim in the 1950s when he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale along with the other ‘Kitchen-Sink’ painters with whom he was associated. Born in Sheffield in 1927, Greaves apprenticed for five years as a sign-writer, before winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Art where he studied from 1948-52.

During the ’60s his work moved away from the social realism of his previous pieces, taking on instead a more stylised approach. His work is prominently displayed in the world’s most prestigious public galleries, including the Tate Gallery, the Contemporary Arts Society, the Arts Council of Great Brittan and the New York Public Library.
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