Basil Beattie

When Now Becomes Then: Three Decades

Text by Nicholas de Ville and Mel Gooding


260 x 210 mm

51 pages

Published with the kind support of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art


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When Now Becomes Then: Three Decades accompanies the exhibition of the same name which surveys the British, Teesside-born painter Basil Beattie’s practice from the mid-1980s to today and is an opportunity to discover connections between his past and more recent production. Beattie is notable for his personal take on Western pictorial traditions, particularly Abstract Expressionism. Prominent themes of his works include the inscription of naïve motifs within a grid structure as well as references to architecture through evocations of ziggurats, doors, steps, and tunnels. Beattie’s output is nonrepresentational, but it has a distinct existential character. As he puts it, ‘the works speak of human qualities of being – emotional and psychological – with metaphorical signs playing a part in them’. The gestural brushstrokes and bold fields of color demonstrate a sensuous, bodily approach to paint. The symbols connect inner feelings with lived experience, suggesting a spiritual engagement with the world.