The Art of Wendy Tate
Some thoughts on why I paint...
My influences are many and varied; I have a passion for the likes of Giotto, Caravaggio, Valazquez, Rembrandt and Chardin as well as more contemporary artists such as Dodd Proctor, Stanley Spencer, Hopper, Rothko, Alison Watts, Lucian Freud and Michael Leonard to name a few.
I am absorbed by the figure and especially depictions carrying a certain monumentality, irrespective of their size. The figure is an immensely evocative image and I have written several of my dissertations about the relevance of the nude, especially the male nude, and of the nude's relevance today as a metaphor for an alternative reality. I am also inspired by the colours of autumn; their light and luminosity, and the invocation of memories through the use of these colours.
I spent a month at the Cyprus College of Art and there I found myself inspired by the Byzantine icons and the beauty of their decaying state. This proved to be seminal for me and drastically changed the way I worked; which until then had been very realist. I became interested in the fragmentation of the image and the layering of its process of creation that comes through as an image decays. I wanted to capture some of this 'accident' and introduce it into my work. I have since established a process that involves using colors inspired by leaf matter, dripping them onto the ground and repeating this several times allowing the colours to mix on the canvas, adding various shades of gold dust and gold leaf until I have a prepared ground in which to work the image. I begin in acrylic washes and oil scumbles and glazes, with the addition of tissue paper for texture and to disrupt the 'illusion' of the image.
As you can imagine each picture begins to dictate its own evolution at various points. The figure fades in and out of this ground in both the highlights and shadowed areas. The result encapsulates a variety of meanings, both due to the iconic nature of the nude, and with respect to memory and the layering of experiences that go to make us individuals within a collective consciousness.
Wendy Tate April 2002

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