David Tindle RA

at 90
14 - 30 September 2022
one of the finest figurative painters of his generation



Senior Royal Academician David Tindle, recently described as "one of the finest figurative painters of his generation" by The Guardian's Rachel Cooke, celebrated his ninetieth birthday in April. The Redfern Gallery, representing the artist since 1994, will be marking the occasion with a special exhibition this autumn.

Over a long and distinguished career, Tindle has earned a reputation for his outstanding paintings in egg tempera, a painstaking technique seldom used since the Renaissance. His early oil paintings showed an influence of Lucian Freud and John Minton, who both admired his work and became lifelong friends, which was then followed by a series of heavily painted, abstracted beach scenes reminiscent of Frank Auerbach. It was only once Tindle turned to tempera, in the 1970s, that he found a style all his own.


His subsequent studies of interiors, gardens, and still life subjects, each deftly painted and meticulously composed, are all imbued with a unique sense of mood and numinosity. Brian Sewell, who went on to own a number of paintings spanning four decades, recognised Tindle's gift for seeing "strange beauties in the commonplace", and the artist has himself written that "perhaps I see religion frozen in time, but ready to break out of ordinary objects". For example, one of his most important paintings, Still Life with Plastic Cup and Spoon (Tate), hints at the Crucifixion. Commenting on Tea (Government Art Collection), Rachel Cooke notes how the simple thermos flask on a picnic rug assumes an air of nobility, appearing "like a lighthouse in a storm".

As well as elevating simple subjects, Tindle is also preoccupied with the theme of time, and its passing, and so much of the imagery feels poignant and profound. He often paints the same interiors with views through the window of a back garden. The seasonal changes as seen through the shifting colours of the foliage, the empty garden chair, and distant hot air balloon, are all reccurring motifs that subtly hint at leave-taking and loss.

From his studio in Tuscany, the artist continues to work, and a series of recent paintings, grappling with themes of isolation, biblical analogies, and his own mortality, sold out during the first week of this year's RA Summer Exhibition. Bringing together seven decades of painting, this upcoming exhibition will be the first dedicated to Tindle since the critically acclaimed retrospective staged in his hometown of Huddersfield, in 2016.

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