The largest of three 'Squeeze' paintings featured in the 2003 Terry Frost retrospective with works from 1964 to 2003 and included in the 2004 Beaux Arts publication, 'Terry Frost' with forewords by John Hoyland and Martin Krajewski.
'Terry Frost' with forewords by John Hoyland and Martin Krajewski. Published by Beaux Arts, 2004
'TERRY FROST'. Forward by John Hoyland and Martin Krajewski. Published 2004.
The three principal elements of Oval Blue Squeeze (the semicircles, the spiral and the squeeze) can be traced back through Frost's career. The semi-circular shapes, perhaps the most iconic and recognisably 'Terry Frost' motifs, hark-back to Frost’s ‘Walk along the Quay’ series of paintings in the early 1950s.
As David Lewis explains, recalling Frost’s exhibitions in 1951-52, in ‘Terry Frost’, Scolar Press; "most of Terry Frost's paintings in these exhibitions derived from a theme of boats and ropes – semi-circular or new moon shapes rocking back and forth down the canvas".
Frost has also incorporated spirals into his paintings and constructions from the early 50s. The artist explained how the sun was a source of inspiration for the spiral, describing a 1957 work in discussion with Herbert Read; "it was a clear bright day and I looked up and saw the white sun spinning on the top of a copse. Afterwards and now I recall that I thought I saw a Naples yellow blinding circle spinning … I do remember that my heart almost stopped at the experience and it was gone”. In the 1990s Frost developed the spiral device in paintings such as the Tate's 'R. B. and W. Spiral for A' and large works such as 'Arizona Spirals' (1990) and 'Spirals' (1991), an installation consisting of 30 'spiral' canvases. The sun never lost its potency for Frost and his work. In 2001 in a radio broadcast, he said of his then home in Newlyn, West Penwith; "that little bit of land where I am in Cornwall, about 7 miles wide, with the sea on three sides …. I can see the sun rise and the sun set from where I am every day. I’m with gods".
The squeeze series was a later development produced in paint and print form, but the technique is at its most effective when Frost used corrugated canvas collage. The present work is one of the largest examples of these 3 distinct constructions of the artist.
Oval Blue Squeeze was completed during a hectic couple of years for Frost with a retrospective in 2000 at the Royal Academy and the 'Painting not painting' show at the Tate St Ives in 2003. As his son and fellow-artist Anthony recalled, Terry's energy and focus upon his artistic output never let up; “It was painting, painting, painting, that was all he thought about. Even when he was in hospital, he would open his eyes and turn to me, give me a wink and say’ I think we should get just one more out’”.