The Alan Cristea Gallery is exhibiting a new series of screenprints and works on paper by Joe Tilson, in conjunction with Theo Waddington's show of the artist's new paintings and sculpture. The works derive their title from the chalk hills around Siena in Tuscany where the artist has a house and studio. Underlying these most recent works is a profound response to the landscape and its rich cultural associations.
Each image depicts a domed hill below which is stencilled a name: the hills near San Quirico, San Vito, and the rivers which flow from them such as Orcia, along which were early Etruscan settlements near Murlo and Serre di Rapolano. The inspiration for this composition came from a collection of Renaissance maps of the area by Leonardo da Vinci in which the hills are similarly inscribed. To evoke the physicality of the landscape the prints are heavily textured with layers of paint, splatterings of dots, and impasted with sand. Tilson also uses a palette of earth pigment: Ferric oxides give ochres, umbers and raw and burnt sienna, from the Italian terra di Sienna (earth of Sienna).
Tilson's use of collage, stencilling and imitation wood-grain patterning recall the techniques of Braque and indicate the artist's creative relationship with art history. Indeed Tilson rightly perceives his work as a small part of an extensive tradition. The Crete Senesi is the same landscape which can be seen in the paintings of the Renaissance artists Sassetta, Giovanni di Paolo, Simone Martini and Lorenzetti in the Palazo Pubblico in Siena.