Frank Avray Wilson 1914-2009

Frank Avray Wilson was the first painter in England to apply the techniques and methods of Action Painting and Tachism.

He was born in Mauritius and graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in Biology. In 1946, he moved to Paris where he witnessed the conception of Tachism, the European equivalent to American Abstract Expressionism. Back in London, Avray Wilson became a member of the progressive Free Painters Group, where he met the like-minded tachist painter Denis Bowen. With Bowen, Avray Wilson also founded the legendary New Vision Centre Gallery in London in 1956. Throughout the next decade this avant-garde gallery promoted hard-edge, lyrical and expressive forms of Abstraction. Avray Wilson's need to balance free and explosive impulses with geometry and structure was very much in tune with contemporary Continental painting. Throughout the 1950's, Avray Wilson regularly returned to Paris, where he exhibited with such leading figures as Hans Hartung, Alfred Manessier and Georges Mathieu.

Avray Wilson's scientific background instilled an aesthetic necessity for structure and for what he called vitalist form. His philosophical interests went much further than following the pre-war tendency to link art and science, seeking and insisting on a transcendentalism to counter the atheist or materialist credo of the post-war existential age.