At the Towner: John Virtue “The Sea”

For over 30 years John Virtue has painted only in monochrome and has created numerous vast canvases using that black and white method drawing on the world around him.  The always interesting Towner has brought together a collection of his works of the sea and, not unsurprisingly, called the exhibition The Sea.  It is an impressive sight.

Virtue resides on the North Sea coast and it is the fury of that particular shore that he is referencing.  However, on a day when gusts in Eastbourne went past 40mph it didn’t take much imagination to understand the white blotches and zigzags as they fight out with the black calm for control.

The exhibition features nine of the towering works for which Virtue is famous alongside 25 smaller works, and these are further complemented by a selection of sketchbooks.  Nothing has a name beyond the number of the work.  It’s hard to see any stylistic development when there is such a uniform approach and subject but when it is so well done it’s better to let intellectual matters drop and enjoy the sensations.

So, another very impressive showing from the Towner.  It’s well worth visiting before the show closes in April – whether or not the raging sea outside the building matches those created within.


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