Hostile Tribe
© DACS 2006

Reference URL

Hostile Tribe 1956
This painting was made in 1956, a year of radical change in Wynter’s work. Its large scale and ‘all-over’ composition relates to works by American Abstract Expressionists the artist saw in an exhibition at the Tate in January 1956, and to the work of Mark Tobey, whom he met in St Ives in 1955. The painting refers to an imaginary primitive history, something which Wynter sensed in the extraordinary natural surroundings of his isolated home in Cornwall. Although Wynter has moved away from figurative painting, the work suggests a group of skeletal, primal figures, comprising enigmatic shapes and symbols. Built up from layers of overlapping and gestural brushmarks made intuitively, Wynter has suggested a deep picture space, unlike the shallow picture space often associated with abstract art.

Glossary Open

Abstract art

Art in which there is no attempt to represent anything existing in the world, particularly used of the 20th century onwards. ‘Abstraction’ refers to the process of making images that may in part derive from the visible world but which are reduced to basic formal elements.

Abstract Expressionism

Term applied to a loose grouping of New York-based artists in the mid-20th century including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. Internal feelings were expressed by the physical action of producing the art works.


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Figurative art

A general term for art that refers to the real, visible world, used more specifically for the representation of the human figure.

Picture Space

The illusionary space created within a two dimensional work of art.

Abstract art, Abstract Expressionism , Composition, Figurative art, Picture Space


  • Acc. No. GMA 2479
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 112.10 x 142.50 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1982