Composed almost exclusively of rectangles and squares painted in muted tones of greys and browns, the objects in David Tindle’s figurative painting are arranged in a near-abstract composition. Among the objects sitting on the mantel are an open cardboard box; a canvas painted in a dark colour; and a small mirror that reflects the back of another (unseen) canvas in the room. At the centre is a white porcelain coffee cup, the shape of which is echoed neatly by an unfurled roll of masking tape beside it. This painting has a strange, anthropomorphic quality due to the arrangement of small canvases and frames hanging above the mantel, combined with the objects on it and the edge of the hearth glimpsed at the bottom of the composition. Each object is arranged to form the appearance of a face that seems to look out at us. There is something familiar about this domestic still life scene, but also compelling about its careful arrangement.
Tindle’s work is figurative rather than abstract; often modest in scale and reserved in mood. He works in tempera to produce a meticulously rendered surface that relies on tone and feel for its full imaginative effect. He plays with notions of presence and absence as the critic William Packer remarked, using emptiness (‘the sense of the empty room, the empty chair, the deserted garden outside the window’) to suggest boundless or infinite possibilities.
Speaking about his work in 1979, Tindle referred to his practice of painting places and objects very familiar to him:
My subject matter is usually that which is closest to me in my environment. It is not so much an exploration of art but of environment, object or figure…The images I paint are of things that I know or can remember best. I try to place them in an order that expresses the feelings I have about them. It is not a question of painting them as realistically as I can, but to get the right tonality, so that memory and presence are very close.
David Tindle was born in Huddersfield. He studied at Coventry School of Art and later taught at Hornsey School of Art, and the Byam Shaw School of Painting. During 1972 –1983, he was Visiting Tutor at the Royal College of Art (RCA). He was later made a Fellow of the RCA in 1981 and Honorary Fellow in 1984.
In the 1980s, Tindle was elected as a Royal Academician and took up the position of Ruskin Master of Drawing and Fellow of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford (1985–1987). He has exhibited his work regularly in London, and in numerous group exhibitions abroad including shows in Paris and Montreal. He has produced several portrait commissions, most notably of Dirk Bogarde (1986) and of Lord Sainsbury (1990). His work is represented in many public collections most notably Tate, London; National Portrait Gallery, London; Bradford City Art Gallery; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; and Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. Tindle lives and works in Lucca, Italy.
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