Frank Avray WILSON

Wish, 1957

Oil on board
122 x 61 cm
Signed and dated

FRANK AVRAY WILSON  British 1914-2009

Abstract Expressionist painter, printmaker and writer Frank Avray Wilson was born in Mauritius of Anglo-Irish and French descents. He spent his early childhood on the Indian Ocean island before attending Brighton College and St John’s College, Cambridge

In 1953, as a member of the progressive Free Painters Group, Avray Wilson met the like-minded painter Denis Bowen with whom he founded in 1956 the New Vision Centre Gallery in London, which became a showcase for Modern and Abstract work.

Avray Wilson held his first solo exhibition at Obelisk Gallery, London in 1954 and later showed regularly at the Redfern Gallery, London .

He participated in the landmark Metavisual, Tachiste, Abstract exhibition at the Redfern Gallery, London in 1957 and  was the first British painter to apply the techniques and methods of Action Painting and Tachism.
He featured in many important group exhibitions in particular at the British Arts Council; La Peinture Anglaise Contemporaine, 1957  Liege, Paris; in Switzerland and also New Trends in British Painting New York Foundation in Rome, 1958.

Avray Wilson’s methodology of a perfectionism was seemingly at odds with the controlled “action” painting of his more exuberantly dripped, smudged and trowelled paint work. He was alert to the need for authenticity, aiming for a quality of genuine spontaneity, albeit one checked by compositional and structural imperatives. While living in Bisley, Gloucestershire during the 1960s he destroyed more than 150 pictures deemed not to have hit the mark.

He also worked on stained glass, and an Avray Wilson stained-glass triptych was installed in a church on Lord Roborough’s estate near Plymouth.

Although widely exhibited internationally during the 1950s, Avray Wilson largely withdrew from exhibiting after the mid 1970s. Only in 1995, after a 20-year hiatus, did Avray Wilson hold a major solo exhibition – a kind of comeback – in London at the Redfern Gallery. By that time the artistic importance of the 1950s was beginning to be reassessed and with it Avray Wilson’s significant contribution within it.

Public collections include:
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
City Art Gallery, Manchester
City Art Gallery, Leeds
Cleveland Museum of Modern Art, Durham University
Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
Leeds University
Leicester Museum and Art Gallery
The Southampton Art Gallery
The Toledo Art Gallery, Ohio, USA
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool