Abstract painter whose work was inspired by his love of the Cornish landscape
When the abstract painter Bob Crossley moved from Rochdale to St Ives in 1959 he brought with him a solid reputation gained in the lively Manchester arts scene of the 1950s. He was essentially self-taught, his Manchester pictures based on figure or industrial landscape motifs. A degree of realism was subsumed by brisk, expressionistic paint-handling that gave his pictures avant-garde currency.
The irresistible Cornish landscape did not prevent the inevitable slide – or ascent – towards abstraction, the mode that dominated post-war St Ives art. In response to the work of Peter Lanyon, Roger Hilton, Terry Frost and many others which he encountered in St Ives, Crossley's painting increasingly expunged references to the external world and preoccupied itself with purely technical and painterly issues. During the 1960s and beyond, therefore, Crossley's vividly coloured and assertive pictures contributed to the power and energy of the St Ives "school".
Despite its long history as an artist's colony, however, St Ives and Crossley maintained a professional distance. Patrick Heron, in spite of also using a Porthmeor studio, had little contact with Crossley and did not use his influence as a critic to promote the northerner's work. Crossley did, however, follow Lanyon, Bryan Wynter and others in exploring nature fully, in his case skiing on Alpine slopes every winter.
Informed by such exhilarating experiences, Crossley's work contributes to the raw experience based energy of modern St Ives painting. His reputation will therefore be tied enduringly to the only genuinely popular abstract movement British art has produced.
Please click here to view a short documentary on the artist
Visit Belgrave Gallery St Ives site for more work by the artist