Movement 3, 2005
Digital Print on handmade paper
102 x 154 cm
William Tillyer Season
Part one : The Prints
Celebrating William Tillyer and Bernard Jacobson's long-running working partnership, Spring 2010's four-part exhibition series will begin with a look at Tillyer's extensive printed output. In the forty years since the artist first visited Jacobson at his Mount Street print gallery, the latter has published close to two hundred editions of his work. The cross-section of works on display exemplify the fruits of such commitment - establishing Tillyer as one of the most constantly innovative print-makers working today.
At the time of that first encounter Tillyer was seven years out of the Slade. Having won a scholarship to apprentice at Stanley William Hayter's world famous Parisian print studio Atelier 17 following his graduation, by 1970 he already had a considerable graphic output behind him, with showings at Young Contemporaries and Arnolfini. With Jacobson's forthcoming support, Tillyer was able to work through his ideas on a more ambitious scale, expanding the lattice-based etchings he was working on at the time into woodcut, lithography and screenprint. The results launched him to the top ranks of the buoyant 1970s print market, winning the notice of major institutions and top awards at the 1972 Second International Print Bienalle in Krakow.
The show begins with some of these early 1970s editions. These works use printed lattices to create what Pat Gilmour, head of the Tate's Print Department, termed, 'a cool and unpeopled world' in which to reflect the surrounding flux of nature'. The lattices themselves were rendered through a wide variety of innovative techniques. As Gilmour explained, 'part of the poetry of the prints lies in the appropriateness with which a particular technique has been used to convey a particular experience'. The emptiness of the scenes and their muted reference to man's influence in abandoned landscapes, plays evocatively against the rigid order of the grid from which they are constructed - the juxtaposition creating an ambience recalling none so much as the eery isolation of Georges Seurat's work.
Tillyer has continued to explore such juxtapositions as a staple of his practice, offsetting his radical approach to pictorial conventions and mastery of diverse techniques against an array of themes from traditional still-life scenes to dynamic abstractions; stiles in his native Yorkshire to the grand expanses of America's West Coast. Across these diverse subject matters Tillyer has forged a graphic oeuvre that remains both innovative and considered, technically proficient and emotionally charged.
The exhibition confirms Tillyer as one of the most prolific and innovative print-makers of our time. Reacting to, mirroring and at times leading his developments in other media, Tillyer's prints form a perfect starting point for the forthcoming exploration of his wider oeuvre. A new series of etchings will be published in conjunction with the show.
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