Rose Wylie



Press release

Galerie Michael Janssen is pleased to announce its first exhibition by English artist Rose Wylie (b. 1934) entitled “Picture on the wall...”.

Rose Wylie’s large-scale paintings and drawings depict simple motifs - animals, cartoonlike figures, insects, skulls and flowers and follow a faux-naïf strain in English art history. She is often inspired by the everyday imagery of her domestic life in rural Kent as well as by folk art and mass media. She also draws from a comprehensive knowledge of art historical references; including ancient wall paintings, medieval and Italian Renaissance art. Disparate expressions as those found on old candy wrappers, paint jobs on African trucks, 1930’s cigarette cards, tattoos and films come together in her rich visual language. An intoxicating mix of the primitive and contemporary is laid bare.

Wylie never uses photographs as reference. The starting point for her paintings is her recollection of things. Her memories, rather than the images themselves become the model for her work. Raw brushstrokes laid on with tremendous physicality and a rough texture of impasto paint bring a sense of immediacy and anarchy. Wylie often hides unsatisfactory results with a patch of fresh canvas, white paint or simply by scratching out. The constant re-working of a painting until it does her memory and aesthetic sense justice seems like an illustration of the mnemonic process itself. She often writes on her paintings and text is included as much for pattern as for content. This amalgamation of image and text creates a maze of narrative possibilities where the process of combining produces a distinct interplay between meaning and representation.

Her over-sized figures executed with an apparent disregard for convention have a cartoon graphic quality and seem to carry the simplicity and innocence of children’s or primitive art. Her works suggest an unmediated creative process devoid of intellectual or conceptual elements. Upon closer inspection the depth of imagery with its different styles and textures makes the experience increasingly complex, both materially and stylistically. There is a discrepancy and tension between the faintly remembered subjects and the intensity of the present material in her work. It seems as if Wylie is concerned with achieving the most basic legibility of an image; as if she paints in order to escape academicism and recapture the spontaneity and immediacy of memory and experience.