Rose Wylie is a fiercely independent spirit, a highly gifted artist whose faux-naïve style and seemingly slapdash painterly manner belie a classical sensibility. Discussing her pictures, Wylie is as likely to reference the Elizabethan court paintings of Robert Peake as the films of Quentin Tarantino and Werner Herzog. This conflation of classicism and the contemporary vernacular is reminiscent of Philip Guston’s late painting, equally in debt to Quattrocento painting and the cultural landscape of mid-century America. Wylie's subjects are drawn from contemporary sport, film and news headlines; also the landscape of her longtime home in rural Kent and the commonplace particulars of her daily life. Wylie works from observation and memory, internalizing her subjects, tirelessly reworking a given motif in drawing and collage until the image is suffused with the artist’s idiosyncratic style and emotional tenor. Her insistence on motif over narrative suggests something like abstraction.
Wylie typically works on more than one canvas at a time. Beginning with a single oversized sheet of burlap stapled flat against the wall, Wylie allows the evolution of her compositions to determine the ultimate structure of the work, often appending additional sheets of burlap to the bottom or sides of the initial surface. The resulting grids may be connected by passages of large painted writing relating to the subject depicted.