'Gespenstische Gestalt' - Jeffrey Steele, 1963
Oil on canvas, painted in 1963
Accession Number WAG6193
At the age of eighteen Steele was expelled from art school for painting precise pointillist dots onto graph paper, the mathematical approach that came to dominate his work. During the 1950s he changed from figurative to abstract painting and developed his optical style in 1960 whilst working in Paris on a French government scholarship.
For his paintings of the 1960s Steele devised a set of rules that governed their shapes, lines and rhythms. Despite the precision of his approach, it was still intuitive, each work having its own 'system'. Although a contemporary of the Op Artists, he maintained that optical effects were not the primary intention of his work and that in fact he sought to keep them in check. Rather, he aimed to satisfy the viewer's mind at various levels of sophistication, mathematical and logical as well as aesthetic.