until 21.12. | #4112ARTatBerlin | Galerie Kewenig Berlin currently presents the exhibition of the artist William Tillyer.
Painterly depictions of reality and illusion are presented by William Tillyer (*1938) in a challenging contrast with materials and spatial references. In the Englishman’s first solo exhibition in Germany, paintings, watercolours and objects from the 1970s onwards can be seen. Strong colours in acrylic and complex structures that determine the surfaces and grid constructions give his works textures that juxtapose nature and technology, with quotations from still lifes or landscape references.
Tillyer ascribes an energy to colour that comes from nature. After early paintings of a reduced sign-like quality, such as the large-format work ‘The Blue Vase with Mixed Arrangement’ (1975), Tillyer’s painting subsequently gains material substance. The application of colour becomes increasingly impasto, the bold tones applied to the picture support in rich contrast.
However, the focus on the material does not exclusively demand abstraction. William Tillyer’s work repeatedly references art history, such as the Cubist work of Braque or Picasso, De Stijl or Russian Constructivism. There are reminiscences of representational genres, still lifes (‘Florist II’, 1977), architectural or landscape depictions (‘Ebb and Flow 2’, 1993).
The grids allow not only the colour but also the viewer’s gaze to pass through. Due to their nature, they are therefore suitable for extending the painting itself and its perception to several levels. As in ‘The House of Karl Gustav’ (1979), for example, a spatial dimension newly opened up in this way includes the now visible wall of the exhibition space, which in turn can become the subject of the painting.
The grids contrast the limited absorption capacity of colour with the ability to generate multiple layers and depth. It is a game with foreground and background, with painted emptiness and unpainted subject matter. Landscapes where, as in ‘Three Green Studio Shelves – The Mulgrave Tensile Wire Works’ (2020), the title refers to more than is immediately legible as a subject, and which are broken up on various levels by this creative means. They detach themselves from expected connections in space and demand a contemplation that seeks to explore new references.
The motifs seem to be absorbed into the composition in a traceable, physical confrontation of the colour with the uneven, permeable grids on which it was at least partially applied and the sieves through which it was pressed. It is an ongoing, inner struggle that is ultimately not resolved, because the grids visible here also remain inseparable from the subject.
The strategy of creating several levels, initially separating them from one another so that they, in perception, come together again, is given particular expression in the objects – for example in ‘Studio Shelf with Circle 27’ (1979) or in the large assemblage ‘Packing to Avoid the Threat of Nothingness – The Farrago Constructs’, (2004), which is lashed together with straps. Such constructed arrangements, as well as the industrially manufactured grids, can be understood as a reference to organising systems through their geometric structure, while painting, on the other hand, represents the gestural counterpoint.
In this dialectic of materials, Tillyer’s ambition unfolds to charge the materials with content, to bring man and nature into a new interplay visually, haptically or generally receptively with the means of art. In this way, this exhibition demonstrates the artist’s ongoing innovative drive and reveals a unique analytical approach in his search for answers to the question of how space, colour and material can be experienced reciprocally in art.
William Tillyer was born in Middlesbrough, England, in 1938. He has exhibited internationally since the 1970s, primarily in Great Britain and the United States. His works are represented in the collections of major institutions, including the Brooklyn Museum and Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; the Arts Council Collection, Tate and Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Opening: Saturday, 11. November 2023
Exhibition dates: Saturday, 11. November until Thursday, 21. December 2023To the gallery
Image caption: The Frobisher Paintings: Oranges on a Plate, 2014 Acrylic on acrylic mesh and canvas 180 x 180 cm
Exhibition William Tillyer – Kewenig Berlin | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin