Stephen Buckley



Not on display

Stephen Buckley born 1944
Polyvinyl acetate paint on canvas
Support: 1156 × 997 × 19 mm
Purchased 1972

Display caption

In 'Trullisatio', Buckley took a technical aspect of painting and used this expressively. Instead of being relegated to a functional role, a process is treated as a way of creating an image. 'Trullisatio' is an Italian term for the process by which the first layer of crude plaster laid onto a wall is scored in order to provide a key for a later, smoother finish. The patterned effect (created by manipulating the wet paint with a comb) also relates to the combed finish on walls popular in domestic interiors earlier this century. By exposing the tacks pinning the canvas to the support, Buckley emphasises the painting's non-illusionistic, physical nature.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Stephen Buckley b.1944

T01685 Trullisatio 1972

Inscribed on reverse of canvas ‘TRULLISATIO/Stephen Buckley 1972’.
PVA on canvas, tacks and stretcher, 45½ x 39¼ x¾ (115.5 x 99.5 x 2).
Purchased from Kasmin Ltd (Knapping Fund) 1972.
Exh: Kasmin Ltd, October–November 1972.

The artist wrote (March and April 1974) that ‘trullisatio’ is an ‘Italian technical word for the process by which the first layer of crude plaster laid onto a wall is scored in order to provide a key for later smoother finishes. The Random House Dictionary, 1967, defines it as ‘(formerly in fresco painting) the first coat of rough plaster laid on a wall. Also called rough cast, scratch coat’. In English there is a term COMBED but this really refers to a finish popular in the earliest part of the century, especially on the walls of the porches of suburban villas (there still exist decorators’ manuals with various patterns illustrated).

‘The comb used in the paintings is made by myself anew on each painting relating to its scale. Sometimes destroyed afterwards or used for something else. I can’t trace a comb anywhere definitely where it has been used again.’

‘The first painting on which I used the method was “Chopsticks” 1963–9 exhibited at Greenwich in 1969 and later, much later cut up and used for elements in “Chestnuts” 1973.

‘Other paintings incorporating that technique are:

Dosover 1973
VSA 1973
Combwich 1973
Costa del sol 1973
White on black 1973
Hommage 1973

‘Trullisatio was painted with PVA paint, as far as I recall white first, then combed whilst the white was wet (fairly thick paint), and left to dry. Then sprayed various colours to mix on the canvas to form the earth colour. Then sanded with my Black and Decker, and the canvas cut and turned, tacked down to show the support.

‘There was also a lot of instinct.’ This work was made at the artist’s studio at 8 Fitzroy Road, London N.W.I.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.

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