McEvoy would boldly apply washes of ‘Artist’s Black’, before blotting or, as is the case here, holding the whole painting under a running tap.

Indicative of his brilliance in depictions of human character and beauty, the present portrait depicts an unknown seated young woman.

An overriding state of flux governs the painting and the notion of chance and accident are celebrated in full. Seemingly, the model has been caught mid-movement; bold folds of flesh convey the twist of her back, whilst simultaneously mirroring the movement of her bent arm behind her head. Perhaps more striking, however, is the element of flux inherent in McEvoy’s working method. McEvoy would boldly apply washes of ‘Artist’s Black’, before blotting or, as is the case here, holding the whole painting under a running tap, enabling the paint to run down the page. This pioneering gesture pre-dates the gestural mark-making and spontaneity of the later abstract expressionists, and places him among a history of intellectual artists who cultivated chance as a means of artistic expression.


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Indicative of his brilliance in depictions of human character and beauty, the present portrait depicts an unknown seated young woman.

An overriding state of flux governs the painting and the notion of chance and accident are celebrated in full. Seemingly, the model has been caught mid-movement; bold folds of flesh convey the twist of her back, whilst simultaneously mirroring the movement of her bent arm behind her head. Perhaps more striking, however, is the element of flux inherent in McEvoy’s working method. McEvoy would boldly apply washes of ‘Artist’s Black’, before blotting or, as is the case here, holding the whole painting under a running tap, enabling the paint to run down the page. This pioneering gesture pre-dates the gestural mark-making and spontaneity of the later abstract expressionists, and places him among a history of intellectual artists who cultivated chance as a means of artistic expression.

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500 Years of British Art