Review: Bill Jacklin, Marlborough Fine Art ‘Dynamic and Emotional’


I love Bill Jacklin’s paintings. Like many, I’ve became familiar with his work through his handful of pieces included every year in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. Bill is, after all, a Royal Academician. But what has always grabbed me is the energy he captures in his canvases, as well as the emotional tug in each work.

And Bill’s work will, rightly, be getting a lot of attention this summer as, not only will he again have some works in the Summer Exhibition, but he is also the subject of two solo shows in London – first, at Marlborough Fine Art gallery, which is hosting a show on Bill’s more recent paintings and monotypes, and second, at the Royal Academy, which will be hosting a survey across Bill’s career

I was fortunate enough to sit down and have a chat with Bill ahead of these shows and we talked about his inspirations, living in New York and how he views his works – you can see this interview below.

The show at the Royal Academy opens in June but the show at Marlborough Fine Art is open now, and to wander through its rooms is to be spirited away, albeit briefly, to New York. Whether it’s the waves of Coney Island, the buzzing energy of Times Square, the lofty atrium and streaming sunlight in Grand Central Station… These are dynamic, evocative canvases that brim with energy.

Bill moved to New York in the 1980s and though the city and its people infuse his pieces and have become his muse, there is much that is universal in these works. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re all lost in hectic crowds these days, or perhaps it’s the dramatic contrast of light and shade that grabs us. But Bill’s works are universally popular so, I suspect, there is an emotional quality to his work that we respond to.

As Bill himself mentions in the interview above, these are paintings that are both optimistic and a little melancholic at the same time, both romantic and bittersweet.

Bill Jacklin, Sea and Stars at Night (diptych), 2015, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 cm each, Copyright Bill Jacklin, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art, London (1280x638)

Bill’s technique is a key component to this. Originally an abstract artist, he now incorporates more figurative elements in his work. But his is a clever blend of the two. His painting, Sun Clouds and Snow Flurries on Fifth Avenue – on display in this exhibition – is a great example of this fine balance between the two styles.

Figures can be made out but they are anonymous, somewhat blurred both in form and by the falling snow and the streams of sunlight. And they are transient bodies – temporarily passing through the scene in a hurry. As we all are. Wherever we are in the world, we’re all just passing through.

This is a free exhibition at Marlborough Fine Art and it’s a real treat to immerse yourself in these works. Absolutely worth a visit.

Marlborough Fine Art, Albermarle Street, London to June 4, 2016
Admission Free.

Image Credits:
1. Bill Jacklin, Sun, Rain and Snow over Fifth Avenue II, 2015, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 cm, Copyright Bill Jacklin, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art, London
2. Bill Jacklin, Sea and Stars at Night (diptych), 2015, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 cm each, Copyright Bill Jacklin, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art, London

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