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Palindrome Shade by Derek Southall

 Palindrome Shade by Derek Southall
Accession Code: wu0187
Title: Palindrome Shade
Date completed: 1972
Medium: Painting
Location Description: Film and Television Studies


During the late 1950s and 1960s Southall initiated a radical new development in abstraction with his 'shaped' paintings often on a large scale. In these he aimed to find a way out of early expressionist enthusiasm. Palindrome Shade, dates from the latter phase of this period. When exhibited in 1968 the size of the works were thought to demonstrate a complete lack of commercial intent. A palindrome is a word or phrase which when reversed reads the same. This work, therefore, possibly deals with the concept of reversible space while the second part of the title, 'Shade' refers to the colouring and the spacial movement within the work. An inscription on the reverse of the canvas states that the painting was dedicated with permission to Vladimir Nabokov, the author of 'Lolita'. The writings of Nabokov and Borges sustained the artist throughout this period of his career. Another work from this period, Pale Fire, was also a tribute to Nobokov while another painting, El Hacedor, was dedicated to Borges. This is an interesting, if perplexing work. What is the significance of the empty space? Southall said: 'Paintings are not for simply looking at, they are for entering (I do not, of course, want to suggest some sentimental illusionistic 'space' - you take your brain with you.)'.