'The Helmesly Sky Studios 4a'
Bernard Jacobson Gallery, New York, is pleased to announce their upcoming exhibition: Coherent Surface, Radiant Light, opening on May 1st, 2012. There will be an opening reception on May 11th. The show features William Tillyer's works along with Larry Bell, Jake Berthot, Bram Bogart, Vicky Colombet, Rudolf de Crignis, James Hayward, Kazimira Rachfal and Marc Vaux
The exhibition explores the artistic objective to depict light, an endeavor that has important historical antecedents. In Cezanne's opinion light could not be reproduced, "but must be represented by something else, color." The Fauvists, aware that a painter's pigments, when mixed are duller than light, developed the practice of using colors pure, as they come out of the tube. Ben Nicholson considered the color of light to be white and Malevich described white as the color of the infinite and the primordial. William Tillyer is a painter of light. His artistic intention is to reposition English landscape painting, creating new relevance for this art form by dissolving the barrier between nature and the evidence of man who is seen as a part of nature. Nowhere is this better evidenced than in the works featured in 'Coherant Surface', his recent relief paintings where a surface of manifestly man made panels provide the support for flowing translucent color, evoking sky, clouds or sun light.
As a celebration of the 60 years since the formation of the North York Moors National Park in 1952, William Tillyer is participating in an exhibition at the Danby Moors Centre from May 13th where he is showing photographs and prints. 'Inspired Landscape' also features work created and influenced by living and working in the North York Moors from: Peter Hicks, a fellow student from Middlesbrough College of Art; Len Tabner who Tillyer taught at Bath Academy; photographer Joe Cornish; and glass makers Gillies-Jones.
In a new catalogue detailing one aspect of his working practice, Tillyer is publishing images selected from his 1970's photographic archive. During that period he collected many images of ‘found sculptures’ in the area around his family home in North Yorkshire. Many of these ‘sculptures’ were milk stands, functional elements of the dairy farming industry at the time. During one vacation, while he was a student at the Slade, he drove a neighbour’s milk lorry, collecting full milk churns and leaving empty churns to be filled for collection the next day. As tankers replaced the milk lorries, the stands gradually became redundant structures. Most of the stands disappeared shortly after these images were recorded; an almost imperceptible change in the working landscape. Some milk stands however are still in place; strange obscure elements in the countryside. We automatically accept rural furniture as part of our ‘scenic view’. The empty stone gateposts, fences repaired with bits of iron bedsteads, hedgerow stiles, signposts, remnants of mine workings from the industrial era of the North Riding. All of these artefacts are testimonials to the hardworking people who have farmed and worked this land for generations, a landscape formed by man’s determining hand - ‘The Furnished Landscape’.
There is a short film on the exhibition featuring William Tillyer on YouTube
The work has now left the studio and the dates for The Balcony Watercolours at The Bernard Jacobson Gallery have now been announced. Come and take a look between the 10th of February and the 5th of March at 6 Cork Street, London.
The second half of 2010 has seen William Tillyer travelling through Europe working on The Balcony Watercolours - laterly in Portugal, Spain and France with impromtu studios in Nice and Estoril bookending the journey.
'The Helmsley Sky Studies 8A'
47.0 x 69.8cm
'The Flatford Chart 111 Nine Clouds'
72.8 x 92.7cm
Painting is a science and should be pursued as an inquiry into the laws of nature. Why, then, may not a landscape be considered as a branch of natural philosophy, of which pictures are but experiments?
"The sky is the source of light in Nature and it governs everything". John Constable
The concluding exhibition of our four-part William Tillyer Season will give first airing to the artist's latest body of work. Inspired by his return to North Yorkshire after a residency in Spain, and executed over the last eighteen months, the works see Tillyer revisit his enduring preoccupation with the English landscape. Following on the heels of our three retrospectives, the show reveals the undiminished ambition with which Tillyer continues to bring fresh insight to the underlying obsessions of his experimental oeuvre.
Centred upon a cloud study motif derived from John Constable's quasi-scientific attempts to map the construction of the skies, (as well as Tillyer's own long-running obsession with clouds as a symbol of interconnectivity within the material realm), these are works that demand to be seen in relation to the historic English landscape tradition even as they push towards a new conception of the genre.
Unfolding across both plane surface and Tillyer's trademark Open Surface lattices, the works see the artist push his control of paint as an allusive tool. In the plane surface Flatford Chart Paintings nine gesso panels, arranged in a chart structure, utilise the interrelation of differently diluted paints to recapture a sense of the material flux embodied in our skies. The viewer hovers between the panels and the accumulations of thicker and thinner paint - suspended in their mysterious interrelations, as they might be staring into the ethereal expanses of sky on a summer's day. The latticed Helmsley Sky Study pieces meanwhile see Tillyer control the movement of paint about and through a regular perforated lattice, suspended some two inches from a white background. Here the focus becomes the paint's conditioning as it weaves through the lattice. The viewer is caught up in the struggle of image and materials, paint and support, rationalising human form and motive, organic paint.
Throughout the works, therefore, Tillyer succeeds in creating new affinities between materials and subject matter, forcing reflection upon man's interrelation to nature, arts relation to the world. As Mel Gooding has observed, "they serve to remind us that the landscape is made by man and that great Nature itself is shaped by the symbolic imagination, known and recognised in our diverse picturings of it."
The exhibition reveals an artist in full-flight, building upon the accumulated experiences of half a century of committed practice to make works which drive towards a novel conception of the landscape tradition and painting in general.
A fully illustrated catalogue with a text by Ben Wiedel-Kaufmann, placing the new work within the context of Tillyer's wider oeuvre and evolving philosophy, will be released to coincide with the exhibition.
To coincide with Bernard Jacobson Gallery's retrospective devoted to William Tillyer's Watercolours, 21 Publishing are releasing this 271 page hardcover book surveying the Tillyer's watercolour production. With 224 full colour illustrations and a text by New York Poet and art writer John Yau.
"However beautiful they are, and many of them are extremely beautiful, almost painfully so, Tillyer’s watercolours never lead us away from the real world in favour of an Edenic vision. Rather, they bring us back to the here and now, to water and dirt, the basis of our existence… The artist’s re-envisioning of the characteristic qualities of watercolour is a unique contribution to both contemporary art and the tradition of English watercolour, as exemplified by artists such as John Sell Cotman, Alexander Cozens, John Constable and J.M.W. Turner." John Yau, 2010
'Aaluminium Cloud 2002 ( acrylic paint / aluminium D handle on MDF)'
38.0 x 49.0cm
Bernard Jacobson is giving William Tillyer (born 1938) the compliment of a four-show season: prints, paintings, watercolours, new paintings. The second part, which defines 'paintings' very broadly, reveals him as a man of metal and cloud. The metal is seen at its purest in the radically geometric early piece 'Fifteen Draw Pulls' and at its best in the recent works in which the modernist grid is made literal in the form of steel lattices which serve as the ground for paint. The clouds range from painterly and etched evocations to a cabinet of pebbles transformed by the title 'Twelve Stacked Clouds'. The two come together in 'Aluminium Cloud', one of a series in which, to quote Tillyer 'the surfaces and structures of the support were to be as a piece of hardware, and as an obstacle to the paint as a protest'. All of which - and more, such as one painting so bursting with ambition it has to be held back with nylon straps - reveals just how ceaselessly enquiring and innovative Tillyer has been in his combinations of man-made and natural sources over the past 40-odd years.
'The Paintings - Private view'
'The Paintings - Private view'
To the uninitiated contact with William Tillyer's paintings can be de-stabilising. Pitting paint against support, formal allure against a wealth of conceptual allusions, industrial materials against organic flourishes of paint, they are objects that at once lure and retract - demanding the viewer negotiate between their disparate modes and multiple assertions. Tracing the evolution of Tillyer's practice across five decades, March's painting retrospective will reveal the diversity of Tillyer's means and the unity of his concerns, providing unrivalled insight into the career of one of the most thoroughly innovative artists of our times.
"Far from seeking to purge his painting of the imitations of nature, Tillyer seems to want to give expression to a new (and modern) vision of it. I believe this is why his art is attaining a new beauty and subtlety at a time when that of so many appears to have entered a fatal cul-de-sac." (Peter Fuller)