b. 1950, Australia
Lives and works Cooma, New South Wales.
Imants Tillers since the late 70’s has critiqued not only the art of the late 20th century Australian art but also international centres of the Western world. No discussion on postmodernism or appropriation can take place in Australia without reference to this significant artist.
Imants Tillers is the child of Latvian refugees who arrived in Australia in 1949, exiled from their homeland by war and political turmoil, part of the great post-war European diaspora. It is this experience of being displaced to a new land, isolated from cultural and personal histories, which has become a central component of Tillers’ work.
While he was born in Australia, in 1950, his first language was Latvian and therefore the questions he asks in his work are informed by the diasporic experience and longing—about place, relationships to the past and the self, of locality and identity. Together, the more than 100,000 canvasboards in Tillers’ paintings form a long poem with many verses. They are informed, as Tillers said of Colin McCahon, by “a constant tension between the search for meaning, the desire for transcendence and a pervasive, immovable scepticism.”
His landscapes are made up of fragments of borrowed images and of language—marks, words, phrases and names used to create the country, to give it form and place oneself within it. Using simple means—hundreds of small canvasboards combined into huge gridded paintings—they exist as part of a long, continuing series, or like a poem in many, fragmented verses.
Tillers’ works map a space of influence, combining, quoting and knitting together words, images and ideas, ghosts and other associations, with source material contributing fragments to his continuing, multi-part epic. The connections he draws together are at once his own and connections to a wider dialogue.
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
Art Gallery of NSW; Art Gallery of SA; Art Gallery of WA; Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tãmaki, New Zealand; Australian Embassy, Paris; Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Vic; Bell Resources Collection, New York; Bendigo Art Gallery, Vic; Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo; The Chartwell Collection, New Zealand; Chase Manhattan Bank Collection, New York; Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, New Zealand; Floridablanca Collection, Madrid; Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne; High Court of Australia Collection, Canberra; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Lila and Gilbert Silverman Collection, Detroit; The Loti and Victor Smorgon Collection; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Michael Darling Collection, Sydney; Monash University Collection, Melbourne; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey (MARCO), Mexico; Museum and Art Gallery of the NT, Darwin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa; National Gallery of Australia; National Gallery of Victoria; National Museum of Art, Latvia; Newcastle Region Art Gallery, NSW; Orange Regional Gallery, NSW; Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra; Pori Art Museum, Finland; Prudential Insurance Company Collection, New York; Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Sakai City Collection, Japan; Sussan Corporation Collection, Melbourne; TarraWarra Museum of Art, Vic; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery; University of Technology Art Collection, Sydney; University of WA Art Collection, Perth; Wagga Wagga Regional Art Gallery, NSW; Wesfarmers Collection, Perth; Westpac Bank Collection, New York; Westpac Corporate Art Collection, Sydney; Wollongong City Gallery, NSW; British Museum, London
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