A very British Surrealist? The Enduring Legacy of Paul Nash

Will Gompertz in conversation with Myroslava Hartmond

Paul Nash’s enduring legacy as Britain’s foremost Surrealist is inextricably linked to his experience of the two World Wars. His evocative visions, such as ‘Totes Meer’ (‘Dead Sea’) of 1941, inspired by aircraft wreckage at the Cowley Dumps in East Oxford, translated the prosaic ugliness of wartime into an unmistakable poetic language that conveyed his love for the English landscape.

2024 marks 100 years since André Breton advocated for “pure psychic automatism” in his first Surrealist Manifesto and made a case for dreams as a worthy subject in art. In an unstable world torn asunder by war, the rise of totalitarianism, and sweeping social and economic change, Surrealism became the vehicle of expressing the anxiety, rage, and conflicted desires felt by leading artists of the movement, including Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, René Magritte, Ithell Colquhoun, and Paul Nash.

Join Will Gompertz and Myroslava Hartmond as they attempt to solve the mystery of Paul Nash’s lasting appeal and relevance in the context of global events, such as the war in Ukraine and climate change.

Will Gompertz is a journalist, bestselling author, and art critic, familiar to many through his documentaries for BBC One and Two, and shows on Radio 2, Radio 4, and BBC 5-Live, as well as publications for leading publishers, newspapers, and magazines. He is the Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, a post he took up in January 2024 to provide the strategic leadership of one of the world’s most exceptional and admired house museums. He has been Artistic Director of the Barbican Arts Centre and a Director of the Tate Galleries. In 2009 the BBC appointed Will as its first Arts Editor, a senior journalistic role in which Will spent eleven years reporting on the arts from across the globe. Will has written three internationally best-selling non-fiction books (published by Penguin in the UK). What Are You Looking At? (2012) – a history of modern art, Think Like an Artist (2015) – about creativity, and See What You’re Missing (2023) – on perception. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Myroslava Hartmond is an Oxford-based writer, researcher, and creative consultant with an interest in the uncanny and bizarre. Since 2014, she has curated numerous art exhibitions in the UK and Ukraine, where she ran the Triptych gallery in Kyiv (2014–2020). Myroslava holds an MPhil International Relations from St Antony’s College, University of Oxford and a BA(Hons) in International Law and French from the Institute of International Relations, Kyiv National University. Between 2014 and 2017 she was a Research Associate of the Centre for International Studies at the University of Oxford.

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Jun 09 2024


6:00 pm

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Pichette Auditorium, Pembroke College
St Aldates, Oxford OX1 1DW
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