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Yellow abstract painting
Yellow abstract painting

Jeremy Moon, Cypher, 1963, oil on canvas

One of the rising stars of the 1960s art world, Jeremy Moon took the live-fast-die-young route. His death in a motorcycle crash in 1973 took away one of Britain's brightest abstract talents, but it also seemed to curtail his career at its moment of maximum optimism.

After an early start in advertising, Moon turned, almost fully formed, into an innovative abstract painter. The kites and sausages of his big yellow canvas Cypher (1963) - almost impossible not to read as a smiley clown's face - heralded the arrival of the man who became the happy face of hard-edged abstraction.

There's a fairground jollity to this comprehensive retrospective of Moon's work. Throughout his 12-year career he indulged the painterly equivalent of a sweet tooth, developing a personal aesthetic of pick'n'mix minimalism, gorged on chocolate browns, marzipan yellows and candyfloss pinks. Battenburg, the title of a typical noughts-and-crosses construction from 1968, says it all. Moon repeatedly protested that his work was non-representative, but this argument becomes hard to sustain when one of his fondant fancies is explicitly named after a sickly, geometrical cake.

But Moon's output is far more than ephemeral eye-candy. Successive variations of line and colour develop with the structural rigour of a fugue. Grand, unyielding geometry betrays the incidental inconsistencies of meticulous hand-production.

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