Bill Jacklin: Towards the Light


Bill Jacklin: Towards the Light

July 21 - September 15, 2023

Marlborough London is delighted to present Bill Jacklin: Towards the Light, a survey spanning seven decades of Bill Jacklin’s artistic career. From early installation pieces and two dimensional abstract ‘system works’ to figurative paintings and monotypes, this retrospective will showcase the artist’s broad and prolific practice from the 1960s right up to the present day.

Born in London in 1943, Bill Jacklin attended Walthamstow School of Art from 1960 to 1961 to study graphic design, before enrolling in the Royal College of Art in 1964. During this time Jacklin experimented with printing techniques which also informed the conceptualisation of his 1963 installation piece Invitation Card, a wooden box encasing figures of saluting soldiers which – just like an aquatint print – had been exposed to varying degrees of acid. 

While such early works were reflecting on the existential angst of the post-war era, Jacklin’s artistic credo to ‘aspire to the light’ gave way to two-dimensional abstract works in the 1970s. Examining the flow of forms and the play of light and shadow through meticulously coordinated markings, these ‘system works’ explored the tension between the repetition of units as the base of the natural order and the asymmetrical complexity of the world’s appearance.

Jacklin’s 1977 series of etchings Anemones marked the artist’s turn towards to figuration. The serialised depiction of gradually dying flowers reflect his continued exploration of light and shadow as well as the interest in concepts of seriality, repetition, and erasure. ‘Each time I make a line I hope to reach out to both the physical world and the metaphysical world’, Jacklin states.

In 1985, the artist moved to New York City where the bustling streets provided a new setting to paint the city’s ‘flowing, pulsating energy’. This sense of movement is often embodied in his painted depictions of ice skaters, figures in the snow and large crowds. Similarly, the works he made during residencies in Hong Kong and Venice also seek to capture the rhythms of daily life as ‘an energy mass’. Crowded city landscapes often appear as patterns of light and dark, making them seem simultaneously remote and familiar.

The exhibition will also feature Bill Jacklin’s latest body of work in which he revisits both abstraction and figuration, bringing the enduring themes of light, repetition and energy into close proximity.