William Turnbull: Retrospectively beyond our time

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The Independent Culture

An exhibition of the work of William Turnbull, 88, one of the most important living British artists, opens tomorrow at Waddington Galleries.

A contemporary of Giacometti, Brancusi and Rothko, as well as a key member of the Independent Group, Turnbull is a lesser-known but influential part of the modernist movement.

The work being exhibited has been created over a 60 year-period and features eight previously unseen works. It is a zesty mix of brightly coloured minimalist paintings (numbered cryptically: 24-1958, for example) and sculptures of bronze nudes and mythical creatures.

Writer and art historian Tim Marlow remarked on the “timelessness” of Turnbull’s work in a yet-to-be-screened documentary about the artist. He says: “Bill was certainly part of the modern art movement and what emerged from it, but he’s always seemed to me to have a vision and cultural connection that went back centuries, millennia even.”

Click here or on the image to see a preview of the exhibition

The exhibition’s title “William Turnbull: Beyond Time” reflects Marlow's sentiments. Nicholas Serota says this is because “The remarkable thing about Bill [Turnbull] is the way in which he has stayed true to his own values, spirit and intellectual position over a fifty, sixty year period.”

Born in 1922 in Dundee, Turnbull served in the RAF during the World War Two. His experiences as a pilot, and the aerial landscapes he saw from the air, are thought to have informed his work a great deal. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art immediately after the war ended, after which he moved to Paris, where he developed his distinctive style.

The first retrospective of his work was held at the Tate Britain in 1973, the next was held 22 years later at the Serpentine Gallery in 1995. More recently, a major solo exhibition of his bronze statues was held in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2005.

Video: William Turnbull: Beyond Time

William Turnbull: Beyond Time is at Waddington Galleries from 9th June - 3rd July 2010, for more information visit www.williamturnbullart.com