PAUL KILSBY IS SENIOR LECTURER IN CONTEMPORARY FINE ART THEORY AT OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY AND A TUTOR IN ART  FOUNDATION AT ABINGDON & WITNEY COLLEGE


 

FORTHCOMING EXHIBITION 

 

PAUL WILL BE HAVING A SOLO EXHIBITION AT THE GLASS

TANK, OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY, IN APRIL, 2018.

 

THE EXHIBITION WILL INCLUDE SELECTIONS FROM THE

SERIES TROMPE L'OEIL, GAZING GLOBES, FLORA NOVA AND

NEW BODY OF WORK , UNNATURAL HISTORIES.

 

 

 

UNNATURAL HISTORIES 

 

IN THIS SERIES, TAXIDERMY SPECIMENS OF BIRDS ARE DEPLOYED TO STAGE QUASI-DOCUMENTARY NIGHT TIME ENCOUNTERS. THE BIRDS ARE PICTURED AS THEY CAPTURE THEIR PREY, INCLUDING MOTHS, BUTTERFLIES, AND INSECTS. THE PHOTOGRAPHS REPRESENT A CRITIQUE OR COMMENTARY ON THE WAYS IN WHICH RECENT  TELEVISION SERIES  DEPICT THE NATURAL WORLD AS EXTRAORDINARY, EXOTIC  AND SPECTACULAR, OFFERING STUNNING IMAGES IN ULTRA HIGH RESOLUTION. EVERYDAY EXPERIENCES OF NATURE  MAY SEEM DIMINISHED AND EVEN DULL IN COMPARISON TO THESE HYPERVISUAL, HYPERBOLIC OFFERINGS ACHIEVED  ONLY THROUGH ENORMOUS PATIENCE AND THE MOST SOPHISTICATED TECHNOLOGIES. 

ANOTHER ASPECT OF THE SERIES IS CONCERNED WITH THE RELATIONSHIP OF TAXIDERMY TO THE NATURAL: THE  STUFFED BIRDS IN EFFECT BECOME IMAGES ACTING OUT A LIFE-LIKE NATURALISM. RATHER LIKE THE PHOTOGRAPH ITSELF, TAXIDERMY SPECIMENS OFFER AN EPIDERMAL SURFACE OF THE REAL. THE PHOTOGRAPH OF THE TAXIDERMY SPECIMEN REPRESENTS A DOUBLE BESTILLING OF THE ANIMATE, AN UNCANNY DOUBLE-TAKE: A STILL OF A STILL.

THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS IN THIS SERIES TO THE REAL IS THUS PROVISIONAL AND PRECARIOUS. AT THE VERY OUTSET OF THE HISTORY OF THE MAKING OF DOCUMENTARY IMAGES OF BIRDS AND ANIMALS, THE SLOW SPEED OF THE PHOTOGRAPHIC EMULSIONS AVAILABLE AT THAT TIME  LED PHOTOGRAPHERS TO PLACE TAXIDERMY SPECIMENS INTO THEIR ORIGINAL HABITAT  TO AVOID THE INEVITABLE BLUR THAT WOULD RESULT FROM THE MOVEMENT OF LIVE CREATURES. THE NARRATIVES OF THE REPRESENTATION OF NATURE, THE 'NATURAL HISTORY' WE ASSIMILATE AS CHILDREN AND AS ADULTS, ARE RIDDLED WITH THESE COMPROMISES AND CONSTRUCTIONS. 

 

 

 

FLORA NOVA

 

THE SERIES OF PHOTOGRAPHS, FLORA NOVA, FUSES DIFFERENT SPECIES OF FLOWERS, USUALLY SHARING A SINGLE STEM. IN SOME, TWO SPECIES OF BUTTERFLY ARE ALSO FUSED INTO NEW, IMPOSSIBLE HYBRIDS. THE BACKGROUNDS REFER BOTH TO THE FIBONACCI SERIES WHICH SOME COSMETIC SURGEONS EMPLOY WHEN PLANNING 'ENHANCEMENTS' TO THE HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY AND TO TAXONOMIC GRIDS USED IN THE CLASSIFICATION OF BOTANICAL SPECIMENS.


 

 

PAUL'S  WORK FEATURED IN THE MAGAZINE

PARTERRE DE ROIS

 

VISIT THE MAGAZINE WEBSITE: Parterre de Rois 

One of the images, STILL LIFE WITH A JAY AND A SONGTHRUSH EGG, from the series La Gazza Ladra, 2014

 

 


 

PAUL'S WORK FEATURES IN THIS PUBLICATION, AVAILABLE FROM THAMES & HUDSON 

Information here: EYEMAZING: THE NEW COLLECTIBLE ART PHOTOGRAPHY 

ON SATURDAY, 9th  NOVEMBER 2013, PAUL CHAIRED A CONFERENCE AT MIDLAND ARTS CENTRE, BIRMINGHAM, CALLED LESSONS IN GEOGRAPHY

Details here: LESSONS IN GEOGRAPHY 

IN OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER, 2013,  PAUL'S WORK WAS INCLUDED IN A GROUP EXHIBITION AT OVADA IN OXFORD 

 

IN MAY, 2012,  PAUL KILSBY LECTURED AT OXFORD UNIVERSITY TO POST-GRADUATE HISTORY OF ART STUDENTS ON HIS OWN WORK IN THE CONTEXT OF SEVENTEENTH CENTURY DUTCH THEORIES OF VISION

IN JUNE, 2012, PAUL LECTURED AT THE LONDON COLLEGE OF FASHION TO THIRD YEAR STUDENTS ON VIRTUALITY

 

IN JUNE, 2012,  PAUL CURATED THE EXHIBITION TONIC (PART OF  FREE RANGE), AN EXHIBITION BY GRADUATES FROM THE FINE ART DEGREE AT BROOKES UNIVERSITY.      VIEW HERE: TONIC, LONDON, JUNE, 2012

 




 

  FLORA NOVA

 

'Kilsby's new research project, Flora Nova, again draws inspiration from seventeenth century still life compositions, this time Dutch flower paintings, especially the  celebrated Ward collection at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. His new strategy involves creating impossible hybrid species by grafting artificial flowers onto a single stem, an allusion to the Dutch convention of depicting different species of flowers together in a single painting which could not possibly be in bloom at the same time. Ambrosius  Bosschaert's Flower Piece of 1620, for example, depicts narcissi, fritillaries, tulips and roses simultaneously.  These paintings therefore proffer an enhanced, hyperbolic version of nature which Kilsby gently parodies. A further reference within the research is to contemporary programmes of genetic modification that seek to enhance and improve on nature.  Kilsby's implausible hybrids are then photographed in the studio, emulating a Dutch seventeenth century aesthetic. Furthermore, he places the specimens against a vestigial geometrical grid in reference to botanical systems of taxonomic classification, such as those devised by Carl Linnaeus.'

 

 

 

 


 


Please use the CONTACT page to leave comments on the photographs or to get in touch

 


                                                                

Paul Kilsby is  working on four ongoing series, Flora Nova, Trompe L'Oeil, Lux  and Gazing Globes. See the relevant pages to explore the ideas and inspiration for each series. 

A selection from the Trompe l'Oeil and Lux series was exhibited at Lensky Gallery in October 2009 :  LENSKY GALLERY

(For sales enquiries, contact Irina Lensky via her website) 

 

Both series were exhibited at Hoopers Gallery, London,  in September, 2010



TROMPE L'OEIL  

This is a series of photographs inspired by the genre of trompe l'oeil, once again combining reproductions of paintings with his own interventions. These images make references to the iconography of seventeenth century still life, including the themes of the memento mori and vanitas. A further inspiration comes from the cabinets of curiosity assembled by aristocrats such as Rudolf II of Prague in the sixteenth century. Kilsby creates trompe l'oeil images in which real three dimensional objects seamlessly mix with reproductions of paintings and fabricated niches.


LUX

Another new series is called Lux. The inspiration for this work again finds its source in French and Spanish seventeenth century still life painting and the objects are drawn from this genre. Each object is painted with luminous pigments and then exposed to ultra-violet light. Then, in total darkness, the objects are photographed using a long exposure, the image in the camera gradually forming from the dim glow of the fading luminous light emitted from the objects. This process in turn relates to the vanitas theme: Dutch painters often included images of hourglasses and candles as representations of mortality and the passage of time.


GAZING GLOBES


Gazing globes are thought to date back to Venice in the thirteenth century where they were made of glass by master craftsmen. Later they became fashionable in the gardens of aristocrats throughout Europe, a taste promoted by Ludwig II of Bavaria who decorated his Herrenchiemsee gardens with them. The spheres, made not only of glass and stone but also of different materials including polished copper, were primarily objects of decoration and contemplation but were also thought by the superstitious to have special powers, warding off evil forces. 

In this new series of four photographs, another key reference is to the Japanese passion for moongazing (tsukimi), celebrated, for example, in the famous woodblock prints of  Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon. The celebration of tsukimi reaches its annual climax in the Japanese calendar with the waxing of the harvest full moon in September.  At Daikaku-ji temple in Kyoto the moon is viewed by aficionados reflected in the lake from ceremonial boats, doubling its beauty. 

Three of these four globes are painted using faux techniques.

 

 


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PAUL KILSBY trained originally  in Fine Art at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the University of Wales. About twenty years ago he shifted from making sculptures to begin specialising in  the medium of photography. At the same time, he began to research overlooked European artists involved in making photographs but whose work had been marginalised within Modernist histories of photography. This research, undertaken in the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Russia and France, was brought together in a Ph D at the Royal College of Art in London.  It also had a growing impact on his own imagery which turned more and more upon exploring the relationship between photography and the history of painting. He began to work with reproductions of paintings, manipulating them in many ways - sometimes by tearing, sometimes by burning, often by adding extra objects and imagery to create small scale tableaux which he then photographed. This body of work was gathered together as both an exhibition at the Royal College of Art and a book, The Seer & The Seen.


Since that time Kilsby has continued to focus on the  relationship between painting and photography. In 2006 he exhibited a new body of work, After Vermeer,  at Hoopers Gallery, London, which explores the ways in which the Dutch painter's imagery reveals a 'photographic'  look due to his use of a camera obscura.  Kilsby used a variety of techniques to revisit Vermeer's paintings. In some he  reworks Vermeer's compositions, bringing characters from  different paintings into fresh combinations. In others, he throws areas out of focus, emphasising  the restricted depth of field Vermeer must have experienced as he  peered into the ground glass screen of his camera obscura.  Another technique involves folding, scoring and reworking reproductions to create 'optical' obsctructions. These photographs, printed using the platinum palladium process, are conceived as explorations, meditations, homages. 

His more recent work continues the investigation of the iconography of seventeenth century painting, concentrating on the iconography of the nature morte genre.

Paul Kilsby has exhibited widely in the UK, including London, Birmingham, Bath, Newcastle, Plymouth, Oxford, Stroud, Stow and abroad, including Paris, Prague, New York, Istanbul, Plovdiv (Bulgaria), Perm (Russia).


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Other sources of information on Paul Kilsby's photography:

 

Paul Kilsby's work and an extensive interview featured in Eyemazing magazine, Issue 03 - 2007. Go to EYEMAZING INTERVIEW PDF  His work also featured in  Silvershotz magazine, the international journal of  fine art photography: THE SEER & THE SEEN  This issue featured works from The Seer & The Seen series with an article by the novelist and broadcaster, Alex Martin.

 

 

Paul was a guest speaker at PhotoStroud Festival of Photography in October 2007 and included in the group exhibition 31 Studio at the Subscription Rooms.


Paul's  photographs were included as part of an exhibition called Oil & Silver at Hoopers Gallery in London from Friday 2nd February until March 2nd 2007. This was a group exhibition exploring dialogues between painting and photography in contemporary fine art practice. The exhibition also included work by Mark Bolland, Nicky Coutts, Nicholas Middleton and Jorma Puranen.

 

Paul Kilsby's photographs are held in public and private collections in France, USA, Czech Republic, Russia  and the UK                                                


 

 
    





Please  visit  31 STUDIO for details of high quality studio platinum printing

 

                    


Also visit  NICKY AKEHURST CREATIVE MANAGEMENT for further details about exhibiting the After Vermeer series