acrylic on canvas
30 ins x 30 ins; 75.6 cms x 76.2 cms
A dedicated and consummate modernist, the work of Rolph Scarlett (1889-1984) over the years would span from action painting to surrealism, with stints designing jewellery, household objects, and constructivist stage sets for no less than George Bernard Shaw. When it would come to painting, however, Scarlett insisted that it remained an act of “pure creation”, not referring to anything objective but speaking to universal truths, transcending the boundaries of the outside world. To this end, possibly his most accomplished pieces would be his work with geometric abstraction, produced during the post-war years. This is masterfully demonstrated here: bright, dynamic colours are playfully arranged in a harmonious, fluid arrangement, producing an exceptionally accomplished example of his style. Large lozenges and bold darts kaleidoscope across a light-blue field, while dots and slashes dance around in a constellation of colour. New colours emerge as shapes overlay each other in semi-transparent folds, almost as if they were cut out of cellophane.
Scarlett was undoubtedly a painter ahead of his time. An early champion of Scarlett’s was Hilla von Rebay, the first director of the Museum of Non-Objective Painting (later the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum); 60 of his paintings, gouaches, and monoprints were included in the collection. His works are included in the collections of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Solomon R. Guggenheim collection - which still has over 30 of his works - and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Private Collection, Toronto