'The Watering Place' takes its name from the Rubens masterpiece in the collection of the National Gallery, London (1615-22). This work was also the inspiration for a painting of the same name by the English artist Thomas Gainsborough (before 1777) and later for John Constable's The Hay Wain (1821), both paintings also in the collection of the National Gallery, London. Tillyer’s eponymous Palmer series refers to the romantic and visionary landscape painter Samuel Palmer (1805-1881) and both series can be seen as part of that same English romantic landscape tradition.
Both series convey Tillyer’s deep engagement with painting, particularly abstraction and the tradition of landscape painting. They also reveal the undiminished ambition with which the artist continues to bring fresh insight to the underlying obsessions of his experimental oeuvre; his investigations into the nature of the art object and its role in the world; and his search for materials and techniques not usually associated with painting.
The paintings are created from acrylic paint, mesh and canvas. The paint is pushed through a fine mesh creating an intricate surface which is carefully built up and controlled by the artist. Later, when the paint has hardened, the mesh is mounted on canvas. In some works, further layers of paint are added; in others not.
In The Watering Place there is a fiery sky shot through with blue and green swirls, clouds and veils, and two glowing, orange orbs. In their colour and surface, the paintings reference the North Yorkshire moors where the artist has lived for most of his life. The landscape around him has long been a source of inspiration, which he first explored in an early student piece, entitled The Vortex, 1958, depicting a “vortex of sky above the moors’.
William Tillyer: The Watering Place
11th October to 30th November 2013
Bernard Jacobson Gallery London