The exhibition forms part of a series of events curated throughout 2018 to mark 100 years since PaulFeiler’s birth, including: the launch of a new monograph published by Lund Humphries; a major museum retrospective Paul Feiler: One Hundred Years at the Jerwood Gallery; as well as the acquisition by Tate of a key late painting Janicon LXII (2002).
Paul Feiler is one of the group of internationally renowned artists who lived and worked near St Ives during the 1950s and 60s, which included Peter Lanyon, William Scott and Roger Hilton. During his lifetime, Feiler was given two major retrospectives at Tate St Ives and his work is displayed in its current exhibition, Modern Art and St Ives.
Elusive Space: A Centenary Retrospective will feature key works spanning varying stages of Feiler’s career. The artist’s paintings were often inspired by the cliffs and inlets of the coast of south-west Cornwall. A number of the earlier pieces seek to evoke the sensation of the landscape – of rain sweeping in from the west, the sea pounding the cliffs, the grey granite of harbour walls and houses, and the rapidly changing light. Pivotal works include: Grey Receding (1964-65), Evening Harbour, Low Tide (1953) and Scathe, Brown (1963).
Peter Lanyon had described how he “could almost taste the quality of” Feiler’s depiction of sand in the seascapes. Lanyon added that Feiler achieves “a sense of calm and a sense of pause”.
In the late 1960s Feiler moved from painterly abstraction to oils inspired by the lunar space landings. From the 1970s onwards, Feiler explored the elusive nature of space through a distinctive square format of narrow bands of colour, often incorporating silver and gold leaf. Based on the idea of a hidden shrine or sacred space, he continued to develop these ideas over more than 40 years. These later works were described by his friend Alan Davie as “some of the most mystical magic pictures Ihave ever seen”.
Additional highlights of his later work, not seen at the Jerwood Gallery retrospective, include Zenicon XXVIII (2007) and Square Relief VIII (2009), both showcasing his mixed media use of oil, emulsion, silver leaf, gold leaf, stainless steel and Perspex.
Elusive Space: A Centenary Retrospective will run concurrently with Catharine Armitage: The Way She Sees It. Armitage, Feiler’s widow, who painted alongside the artist for many years, will present a new series of paintings in the lower gallery.