A leading figure in British modern art is to show work at the city college which honoured him. Prolific painter Albert Irvin known for his exuberant, vibrant and colourful paintings and prints, will exhibition at Plymouth College of Art later this month.Albert Irvin will exhibition at Plymouth College of Art later this month. He was awarded an honorary fellowship there in 2012, the same year he turned 90. The queen followed Plymouth's lead by awarding him an OBE in the birthday honours this June.
Irvin was deeply influenced by the exhibition of American painting organised by the Tate, London, in 1956. He describes the experience of seeing the Abstract Expressionist pictures – a genre pioneered by Jackson Pollock's and his drip paintings – as "'like a bomb going off". The same could be said for the look of Irvin's overalls – it's as if he was caught in an explosion in a paint factory. The College of Art show will look at his relationship with and role in the birth of abstraction in Britain from the 1950s. Some of the works on show will include pieces from 1960 (Slow Black Night) to 2012 (Memory II). Although he is known for his bright, dazzling paintings, the colour blue is a common thread in the exhibition. The "blue paintings" have appeared irregularly but repeatedly in his output over the decades. He chose to move into abstraction because, as with music this was something simply to be experienced; there was "no need for interpretation". His Plimsoll exhibition at Plymouth College of Art opens on August 19 and continues until September 14.