CYRIL MANN  (1911-1980)

Bottles and Fruit with Solid Shadows c.1952
Oil on board 42 x 33cm

In the early 1950s, Cyril Mann moved into a council flat that had virtually no day light. Above a gold-bullion storage firm, the windows were boarded up for security. Mann thought it a terrible place for an artist to live, especially one whose interest in painting was sunlight.

Then, turning on the electric light, his attention was drawn by cast-shadow formations. He noticed how shadows formed a column, that stretched like a veil from an object right down to the surface on which it stood. "I saw shadows within shadows and realised that's what I needed to paint," he explained to Renske, his wife. No other painter before him had seen or rendered what he called 'the solid shadow' before.

For the next three years, Mann concentrated mostly on small still lifes, using strong line and heightened colour in two-dimensional designs. These pictures of everyday objects are reminiscent of work by much later artists, from Andy Warhol to Michael Craig-Martin. Some 60 years later, they look startlingly modern.

Next Painting   1