Joe Tilson

Liknon 3


Not on display

Joe Tilson born 1928
Oil paint on canvas on wood
Support: 1966 × 1975 mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1988

Display caption

Tilson, who works in both England and Italy, has known the Mediterranean world for almost fifty years. The materials and handling of his early paintings displayed a sensuousness roughness. From his Pop period onwards formal structures were prominent in his work, and in the 1970s the four Elements became a major theme. 'Liknon 3' links all these concerns. In ancient Greece the 'liknon' was the winnowing fan used to throw grain into the air to separate chaff from wheat. In each painting in this series a still life of fruits of the earth is surrounded by panels inspired by painted imitations of marble. Tilson sees art as 'an instrument of transformation to put yourself in harmony with the world and with life'.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Technique and condition

The support was assembled and prepared by the artist. It comprises five scrim-faced batten-reinforced plywood panels which are screwed by means of their batten backing to the radiating framework of 68 x 44mm section softwood. The panels are of 5mm thickness exterior quality plywood and their jute scrim facing was adhered using a polyvinyl acetate wood adhesive, Unibond.

A priming layer of titanium white polyvinyl acetate paint was used over the scrim. Polyvinyl acetate was also used as the binder for some local applications of sand, and the same binder mixed with pigment for the earlier applications of the painted design. Later applications are carried out in traditional artists' oil paint supplied by Daler-Rowney and Winsor & Newton.

The paint films are not varnished. The painting does not have a display frame.

The condition of paint and support layers appeared relatively stable at the time of acquisition and the attachment of additional panels to the top corners of the support framework's reverse, to facilitate Gallery hanging procedures, was the only treatment to the painting thought necessary at this time.

Peter Booth

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