VISUAL ARTS

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The Independent Culture
The galleries of the Tate, St lves (01736 796226) have been re- hung for the winter and re-open at 11am this morning with an exhibition of the work of Christopher Wood and a selection of new displays

Christopher Wood was a curious figure. A beguiling mixture of restlessness, innocence and charm, Wood had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Arriving in Paris fresh-faced from school in 1921, he soon became the only Englishman of his generation to have the ear of Picasso and Cocteau, "a convenient bisexuality", as the novelist Anthony Powell put it, "being no handicap in that particular sphere".

The Tate exhibition concentrates on the works that Wood painted in Cornwall and Brittany towards the end of his tragically short life. At first glance they are cheerful pictures: sunny, rather magical scenes of fishermen and friends, but often with something threatening underlying their calm.

The last of these works were painted in Brittany in July 1930. Three weeks later, his mind befuddled by opium, Wood jumped under a train. He was 29.

Among the other new displays at the the refreshed and reopened St Ives Tate is a room devoted to Christopher Wood's contemporaries of the 1920s. This was a decade of gentle progress rather than high excitement in British art, but one which laid the foundation for the more obvious advances that followed and so for the particular brand of modernism for which St lves is well known.

Henry Moore, Ivon Hitchens, David Jones and Cedric Morels are all well represented by good early works as, of course, are Ben and Winifred Nicholson whose friendship with Christopher Wood brought a distinct flavour of the European avant pede to the insular world of English painting.

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