More Categories


Private Collection, USA


Bristol, Arnolfini Gallery, Paul Feiler, 1961


Between 1958 and 1964, almost all of Paul Feiler's paintings were named after places along the Cornish coast and, as his drawings show, they retain even at their most abstract , a sense of place as part of their pictorial presence. Here the natural drama of cliffs, sea and sky are transformed into layers of white paint scarred and seamed by diagonals showing through from beneath, into which all but a few individual elements of the scene are subsumed. Sequential photographs taken of similar paintings from this period, document this gradual disappearance of recognisable landcape forms into almost total 'whiteness'. A comparison can be drawn between this painting and the paintings of Peter Lanyon from the same period, and at this moment in time, their artistic concerns do indeed appear to intersect. Feiler clearly shares Lanyon's interest in metamorphosis: rocks and sand are transformed into the human figure, landscape oscillates into abstraction. Feiler's gestural treatment of paint, and naturalistic palette of colours, while echoing Lanyon's, seem an almost inevitable direction for a painter faced with the landscape of St Ives, at this point in the late fifties when painters in both Britain and the United States were embracing a new large scale abstraction. From this common ground however, both artists produced paintings which expressed their unique response to this environment, and on closer inspection each has his own highly personal language of brushstrokes and mark making. After 1964 Feiler's work moved off in a different direction, his paintings refer less to direct observation of the landscape, and are increasingly explorations of formal concerns.