York Wilson
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Retrospective 1927-1973
Geometrics 1966-71
Poetry Paintings

York Wilson: Perspectives on My Work

My work does not fit easily into any category because the paintings are geometric intellectual developments, while the drawings are informal visual impressions. My first exhibited paintings were concerned particularly with subject matter, social commentary and general observations of our local environment. They went through a progression of changes, moving from completely figurative, through several degrees of abstraction, to become finally non-representational.

However, I have continued to draw directly from the model most of my life, because I believe that an artist and particularly an artist dealing with intangibles should be technically capable of expressing himself equally well in figurative or non-figurative terms.

The recent direction started in the late summer of 1966. We were ending a year of travel and painting in the Far and Middle East and the experience had had a profound effect on me related to painting. It was impossible to put into words or even summarize mentally, the kaleidoscope of impressions I had absorbed. However, we stopped in Paris for a few weeks and while there I dreamt a painting (in colour) unlike anything I had seen before and totally unlike my own painting. I spent the day following the dream making an exact replica from memory. The next night I dreamt another painting, which I again recorded. From that time on the work has been amplification of ideas started by those dreams. I now believe the myriad of impressions in the East were all synthesized in the subconscious and came through, at first without reason but later with more obvious connection with previous experiences.

These recent paintings are abstract space and colour relationships that sometimes can be related to specific experiences. Sometimes they are related to a combination of many places and impressions. Space – can be the intervals of music, the distance between buildings, the rhythm of poetry, the beat of marchers, the interval of waiting, the moon exploration, the tick of a watch; it can be audio space, visual space, tactile space, rock and roll space, string quartet space. The definition of space can be and is as limitless as imagination, colour – is trees and landscape, sunsets and skin tones and music tones; it is the colour of Bach as compared to Liszt; the prism or the twelve tone scale; it is morning and night, hot and cold, high and low, colour can be fast or slow, happy or sad. The definition of colour can be and is as limitless as imagination.

Because of the latitude of space-color relationships each canvas will depend for communication on the audiences’ previous personal experiences.

I believe that the audience is essential to the success of any painting. Contrary to many contemporary opinions, I believe that a painting should not have its full impact on first viewing. A painting should take a long time to know.. it is not too much to hope that an owner might find something new, discover a fresh or different effect in a painting five years after acquiring it.

There are many intentions in painting; my hope is to introduce a viewer to a new visual experience, one that will be discovered slowly and enjoyed a long time. In an age of shock and disquiet, the visual arts can play a stabilizing role, while still reflecting visually the color and mood of contemporary society.

York Wilson   October 30, 1969

This article appeared in Revista de la Semana, November 2, 1969