11th - 23rd June 2019
Asia House, 63 New Cavendish St, Marylebone, London W1G 7LP

curated By Diane Shiach



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Engaging with a space between ethereal landscape painting and organic abstraction, William Foyle’s recent paintings prioritise a commitment to experience and its relationship with time. Intrigued by his paternal Hungarian heritage, Foyle was spurred on to travel extensively through the lesser-known outposts of Eastern Europe. It began by car; he drove across Serbia in 2015, then Romania and Bulgaria. But it was when he began exploring train routes that his latest body of work germinated. From Turkey to Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, and across the continent to North Africa and India, the aperture of a train window soon became Foyle’s means of unperturbed observation. It inspired a new direction in his painting. 

His interest in crossing such landscapes is rooted in the history of forced human displacement. The sense of journeying can first be traced in his stirring Holocaust series, and has profoundly affected his work thereafter. Foyle spent his early years scrutinising the figure before feeling compelled to change focus. His new landscapes are conceived years before the paintings are realised; a gradual, brewing contemplation eventually surfaces as brush is put to canvas. The resulting rhythmical orchestrations of paint engulf the senses. 

Foyle nurtures his curiosity about landscape by documenting his journeys on a pocket camera. The blurred images – otherworldly horizontal planes – scatter his studio in Wood Green, North London. A single photograph is isolated before beginning each painting, the rest being removed out of sight. Although compositions are unplanned, they become apparent during the process – usually an intense working period resolved within a single day or night in a climactic outpouring. 

Through the skilful build-up of thin layers of pigment, the images reveal themselves over time. Foyle has reduced his palette to just three colours and yet, with tonal autonomy, he realises subliminally complex insignia. Visceral, free-flowing forms breathe intense colour on the surface of the canvas and are compellingly ambiguous. The sinuous, melodic shapes resist containment and defy any linear marking; they are freed further by the significantly large canvases, as Foyle pushes the paint to its utmost limits. While he works, recordings of soundscapes usually fill the quiet of the studio; they appear to fuse with the sweeping symbolist imagery across the canvas – their melodious energy carrying both melancholy and vigour. 

By capturing the very essence of nostalgia and rendering it present, Foyle’s paintings challenge us to delve into a dialogue with our subconscious. These psychological landscapes, with their discordant harmonies, have an uncanny ability to be both about time and at once defy it. They demand the viewer’s complete absorption as one finds oneself journeying along a path of reminiscence, anticipation and lyrical expression. 

by Lilias Wigan