Spring has sprung in Newcastle. The University Gallery is bursting with vibrant colours, shapes, movement and life, all barely contained beneath the spotless glass paneled frames that line the white walls. The complete works of Albert Irvin RA are being shown as a major retrospective of the artist’s printmaking output and they sing with life and passion. Citrus orange swirls sit alongside deep violet slashes in the screen print and woodblock piece ‘Stratford’ in a combination that draws the eye and makes the heart skip a beat with delight that such colours exist. The screen print ‘Galaxy’ is, at first glance, deceptively simple and consists in reality of ten colours, six circles and three lines. It shouldn’t hold our gaze, but it does. It challenges and engages and seems to speak of much bigger things.
Irvin was a navigator in the RAF and, according to the gallery brochure, it is his cartographical expertise that inspired his early figurative paintings and first exercises in abstraction moving “inexorably towards ‘painting which aspires to the condition of music’.
The walls are alive – with the sound of music.