Painter Rose Wylie takes inspiration for her paintings from film, literature and even the scraps of newspaper articles on her studio floor.
Often arranging her large-scale paintings in book formation, so that they take on the angles found at the corner of a room, Wylie’s use of familiar imagery allows her to tell stories and explore themes of representation in narratives already in the public domain.
I do like big work. I like billboards. I like very early decorated churches where the paintings go from floor to ceiling and up arches and round the door. I’ve always thought it’s a very convenient way of using spaces in galleries and spaces anywhere. I find it more exciting and it can expand, stuff can expand as you go on up and you’re not quite sure. There was a lot of storytelling in The Queen of Sheba and I read about it in Marina Warner’s book. Solomon sent the djinns out to research whether the Queen of Sheba was as beautiful as wise and whether she was, rather importantly, as rich as he’d heard. She was and they came back and they said, she is excessively beautifully, she is hugely rich and she’s very wise but she has cloven feet. As the Queen of Sheba approached Solomon’s palace there was a little river and they took the bridge away so that she would have to take her shoes off and lift her skirt up so they could see whether she had cloven feet.
From that one to that one and then including these two and then they came to be this in the painting at the end which is in the Tate, so that’s the final one where I introduced John Terry for what symbol of money, instead of Solomon on the corner in the Tate. You do get a good view of John Terry’s head as you come in one of the doors because it’s straight across the room and opposite you and it’s a strong image and it comes … it’s very dark, black and white, and it comes over strongly.
I find myself putting my paintings into book formation at an angle where ... how the walls of a room go. I can see one drawing with another and as you flick a page over you can see a new combination. I’ve taken that process and simply continued with it into larger pieces of canvas. I think Matisse once said, go for it try to get it as it as it is and it won’t be right anyway but that’s fine. The whole arrangement and grouping is very fluid. They’re very collaged. I can put any canvas together; cut a piece off, add a piece. It’s all just out there and can turn out anyhow, anyway. They’re sort of slightly casual. Misfits. And, it all helps the object quality and the threads, the glue, the hardboard sticking onto it. The lines of registration become very much your own piece of work. It becomes very a part of you.