Born in Chelsham, Surrey, Victor Pasmore (1908–1998) is arguably the most important artist to have settled and worked in Malta in the second half of the twentieth century. Following in the footsteps of the French Impressionist masters, Pasmore garnered a steady reputation as a landscape and figurative painter in the early years of his artistic career. After completing his studies at Harrow Art School, and having been compelled by the premature death of his father to find employment, Pasmore joined the local government service, and worked as a clerk in London’s Public Health Department until 1937. Yet, these mundane years were not truly wasted as far as Pasmore, the artist, was concerned. As described by Pasmore himself, during these years, he ‘tried his hand at everyone’ – Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin, Constable, Turner, Whistler, Picasso – and continued to paint and experiment. He attended evening classes at the Central School of Art, and later joined the London Artists’ Association – a principal organization which placed him on the front line of the modern British art scene. This was indeed a turning point in Pasmore’s artistic outlook, and was reinforced further through the establishment of the Euston Road School, of which he was a founding member.
In the years following the Second World War, Pasmore’s obsession with nature and post-impressionistic art theory led him to an objective and continuous development of abstract forms expressed through countless drawings, paintings, prints, reliefs, three-dimensional works and architecture. Parallel to his artistic practice, Victor Pasmore’s objective and scientific approach to art filtered into the content of his art classes. Indeed, Pasmore was employed as a teacher at Camberwell School of Art, at Glasgow School of Art and as Head of the Department of Painting at Durham University, where he introduced a groundbreaking course in basic form, entitled ‘The Developing Process’, and which was a fundamental step in bringing the outdated British art education system out of the clutches of the past.
In 1966, at the peak of his artistic and academic career, Pasmore, together with his wife Wendy and two children, took the decision to settle in Malta, in a farmhouse amid the fields of Gudja. From there he continued to develop and reaffirm his concept on the complete autonomy of painting as an independent object, while having an unprecedented opportunity to experiment with architecture and sculpture. Thus, through his regular exhibitions and encounters with artists, Pasmore introduced to Malta a rationalistic stream of abstract philosophy, method and practice which not only enriched the local artistic scene, but further allowed him to deepen his search for the image within a completely different and unique environment, until his death in 1998. His paintings, constructions and prints are today displayed at the Tate Modern in the UK, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and numerous other leading galleries and collections.
The collection covers a wide range of Pasmore’s creations and preferred media, including drawings, reliefs and spray paintings, constructions, prints and composite works. Though not all produced in Malta, the works on display are largely representative of Pasmore’s artistic practice following the move to his village farmhouse in Gudja in 1966, and also exhibit a greater sensitivity and interest in light, colour and myth.
The gallery was originally a ‘polverista,’ or gunpowder magazine, constructed during the time of the Order of St John, and which was later rebuilt during the British period. In more recent years, the inner barrel-vaulted room was restored and converted into a permanent exhibition space following a collaborative agreement between The Central Bank of Malta and The Victor Pasmore Foundation, and was officially opened to the public on the 3rd November 2014.
FONDAZZJONI PATRIMONJU MALTI, set up in January 1992, is a non-profit-making organization with the aim of spreading awareness of the island’s extensive heritage locally and internationally, through museums, exhibitions and publications. In September 2015, Patrimonju took over the management of the Victor Pasmore Gallery with the intention of bringing to light the importance of Pasmore and the Maltese modern art movement.
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Victor Pasmore Gallery
Central Bank of Malta Annexe
St James's Counterguard
Valletta VLT 1060
The Gallery is just off Girolamo Cassar Avenue and 5 minutes away from the Valletta bus terminus and the Triton Fountain.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 11.00am - 3.00pm
Gallery talks daily at 1.00pm
Admission is free of charge