Another four shows celebrating Tillyer are scheduled to follow throughout 2018, forming a remarkably extensive programme for a single, lesser-known British artist.
Indeed, the gallery’s esteem for the artist has added weight since the timing of his shows is interspersed with those featuring two of the leading, long-lived masters of the 20th century: Pablo Picasso (March 15-May 2) and Henri Matisse (July 5-September 15).
Now in his 80th year, Yorkshire-born Tillyer has been active across nearly five decades, producing works that reflect on humans and humanity’s relationship with nature. His work has been exhibited in various British institutions (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art held a major retrospective in 2013-14), is included in the Tate collection and has been bought by Charles Saatchi and the late David Bowie.
But the artist, whom the gallery’s eponymous owner describes as “private, quiet and self-effacing”, has never found the widespread popularity that some of his artistic contemporaries – such as David Hockney and Peter Blake – have.
So, Jacobson has committed this year to proving Tillyer’s worth. “I think he is perhaps the best painter that Britain has produced since Constable,” says Jacobson, adding that he is “very aware” of the many artists who have come between the two.
This series is a chance to put matters to rights: to position the artist more firmly in the canon of British art and to celebrate his 80th birthday in style.
The first show of the series, William Tillyer: Radical Vision, which runs until February 3, encompasses the breadth of his career, from some of his earliest paintings to a number of his most recognisable mixed-media pieces, all priced from £1000 (for some of the prints) up to £150,000.
• William Tillyer – Á Rebours (February 8-March 10)
• William Tillyer – Alice Oswald: Nobody (May 15-June 23)
• William Tillyer – The Golden Striker-Esk Paintings (September 25-November 24)
• Noa Noa – including the works of Tillyer alongside Gauguin’s original woodcuts and a new translation of his text Noa Noa (December, TBD).