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This 1965 self portrait has a kind of stark, marvellous beauty to it. Taking the form of a border-cropped close-up of the artist’s face, the self portrait is a small, intimate work. The brilliancy of the artist’s complexion contrasts with the black background. Bluish-black paint evokes his wavy dark hair and thick moustache and beard. Dark outlines delineate the sad, mouth, the thick spectacles above the wistful eyes, the strongly-defined nose. The use of a dark armature against luminous colour is reminiscent of various kinds of art Hayman admired – notably Byzantine icons, medieval stained glass, and Rouault’s paintings.
After spending his wartime years in New Zealand – where his early imagery of lovers in landscape, voyagers at sea, women and aeroplanes, set the mystical tone for a lifetime’s work – he and his wife Barbara settled in St Ives, where his visionary art was much admired by Lanyon and Hepworth.
oil on board
H 22.5 x W 15 cm
acquired by Ruth Borchard as part of the original collection