InSight No. LI
Though Cornwall was a defining part of his work and his lifestyle, it was not the limit of Bryan Wynter’s existence. The brilliant colouring and elemental qualities in his painting developed from his encounters with the natural world.
Maremma is a pleasant coastal region of Italy, encompassing much of south west Tuscany and part of Lazio. It borders the Tyrrhenian Sea and, aside from its beauty, it is known for several breeds of domestic animal – horses, cattle, a sheep dog – which are named after the area. In recent years, British newspapers have characterised it as ‘chic but discrete’ (The Guardian) and a ‘forgotten corner’ (The Daily Telegraph). Though it is unclear if Bryan Wynter (1915–1975) ever visited the region, his adoption of ‘Maremma’ as a title suggests an undercurrent of Mediterranean lusciousness in his work of that name.
At the root of Wynter’s practice was his physical, first-person exploration of nature – river canoeing and sea swimming were among his favourite outdoor pursuits. Rather than suggest any particularly Cornish experience, his allusive titles more often refer to generic processes of change in the weather and landscape, as in Mineral World, Source, Seedtime, Firestreak and Sandspoor.
In a note about his painting, published in 1962, Wynter mused on the relationship between his paintings and the landscape.
These paintings […] are not pure abstractions. Nor do I abstract from “nature”. I approach “nature” from the other side. I used to be a landscape painter. Am I still influenced by landscape? The landscape I live among is bare of houses, trees, people; is dominated by winds, by swift changes of weather, by the moods of the sea; sometimes it is devastated and blackened by fire. These elemental forces enter the paintings and lend their qualities without becoming motifs.