Painted Constructions

'I think the nature of painting is such that it can tackle the world. The subject, the motif, is the vehicle for the message, the message is about the way we are and the way we live. One is always pushing to a new reality, a new truth, for the way we live today' - William Tillyer

The title of the distinguished critic and writer Norbert Lynton's recent monograph on William Tillyer (21 Publishing) is 'William Tillyer: Against the Grain'. Chapter headings include: 'With and against Nature', 'Art Behaving Badly' and 'Against Fixity'. The title and chapter headings employed by Norbert Lynton are illuminating and already give us some idea of the complexity and ambition of Tillyer's work. In particular, they indicate an artist of integrity who is not dictated to by fashion, appears somewhat rebellious in nature and still manages to make works which are relevant to both his art historical antecedents and current culture.

Tillyer is not alone in being accused of changing direction too often, the same things have been said of Joan Miró, Maurice Cockrill or Australian artists such as Fred Williams. This change of direction, far from being a sign of indecision, is int he case of great artists quite the opposite. It may be difficult to understand without the benefit of hindsight, but the constant inquiry, the search for truth in painting and life is the difference between the mediocre and art that will have lasting impact.

Tillyer tends to begin a new series when he feels that his current road is either concluded or exhausted and the following work may appear to even undermine what has come before. However, closer inspection reveals that the quarry remains consistent and is well articulated by the quote from the artist above.

The changes indicate fluidity and imagination, not lack of conviction, a desire to address the big issues and problems of painting, not an attempt to hide or avoid them. For the seasoned viewer of his work this approach may contain elements of surprise, but it is always exciting and even exalting for those willing to open their eyes and hearts to the work.


Painted Constructions
paintings, mixed media works & works on paper
In association with Bernard Jacobson Gallery London
18 September - 2 November 2002

Exhibition features:

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Please note, works in previous exhibitions may no longer be available, please visit our stockroom for available works