Bernard Jacobson Graphics will show a selection of early 1970s etchings by William Tillyer. These were produced after Tillyer had been studying printing techniques with Anthony Gross in London and Stanley William Hayter in Paris. This point in Tillyer’s career saw him discover the lattice: a neutral grid, where each line is evenly spaced and each line connects to all others according to rigorous geometry. It was to prove groundbreaking for his art and was a perfect illustration of his belief that everything is connected, and the grid remains central to his paintings to this day.

Pure Etching

Curated by Tim Goossens

Presented by

William Tillyer

Bernard Jacobson Graphics, London, UK

In producing these lattice grids, the artist screen-printed the grid pattern onto an etching plate. Then, by covering different areas of the plate, he developed the image, without drawing any line. This made it possible to remove any evidence of the hand of the artist. Tillyer dubbed this technique “Pure Etching”. Seen from a distance the images seem clear, almost photographic, but as one moves closer the deeply etched pattern creates a dizzying effect of reality dissolving into abstract line. The images in turn present cool modernist glass houses in landscape settings; in some cars are seen parked on the drive beyond the glass walls, in others modernist furniture inside the buildings is seen through the walls from outside, the transparency of the subject echoing the transparency of Tillyer’s etching technique itself, as though everything is seen through multiple screens. It was these “mechanized images” (as Pat Gilmore described them) that started the lifelong collaboration between Bernard Jacobson and William Tillyer.

William Tillyer is a contemporary British artist known for his abstract watercolors and oil paintings based on works by John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, and Nicolas Poussin. “The real crux of the problem is that painting as an activity has become marginalized,” he has explained. “My thinking is to find room for its continued expansion, I’m particularly interested in tracking the change in painting in terms of surface, to one of physicality; a conversation between illusion and reality.” Born in 1938 in Middlesbrough, United Kingdom, he went on to study under William Coldstream at the Slade School of Art in London during the early 1960s. Following his time at the Slade, Tillyer took up a French Government Scholarship to study gravure under Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17 in Paris. Upon returning to England, the artist began making experimental work that raised questions about the relationship of art to the world. Tillyer currently lives in his hometown of Middelsbrough, United Kingdom. Today, his works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Fort Worth Art Museum in Texas, among others.

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