Joe (Joseph) Tilson was born in London in 1928. He began his career as a carpenter and joiner before serving in the Royal Air Force until 1949. He studied at the St Martin’s School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. In 1955, he was awarded the Prix de Rome and relocated to Italy. Back in London two years later, he taught in several schools and universities. He is one of the pioneers of the Pop Art movement in the United Kingdom. Resolutely modern and of its time, this movement attracted Joe Tilson when he decided to dedicate himself to painting. After this period, where he brought a European dimension to this American artistic current, he finally chose a different direction, still feeling the need to infuse his work with meaning. And that’s just what he did, finding new energy in his reaction to Western consumer society. This new direction in his creative process was linked to a desire to go back to simple, essential concepts such as the four elements, the four cardinal points or the seven days of the week.
He diversified his art, experimenting with new materials such as stone, string or straw, seeking to reject everything that he had learnt of fine arts. This process gave birth to new pieces, inspired by a return to his roots both material and spiritual. He digs deeper with every piece, offering new shapes, printed words or slogans, working with glass with experienced craftspeople, but never forgetting painting. This determination to extract himself from a certain vision of contemporary art, and also to find alternative means of expression, led Joe Tilson to work with PINTON in partnership with Galerie Verolino. He designed the Look tapestry, of which three copies were made and which is a perfect illustration of the current purpose of his work: combining centuries-old know-how with his creative aspirations infused with modern issues.
Nathalie Junod Ponsard