Caja Negra
Caja Negra

Imants Tillers

1950 - Caja Negra 2001
  • acrylic and gouache on 150 canvasboards
568 cm x 230 cm

Imants Tillers is one of Australia's leading contemporary artists. His multi-part works are often made up of hundreds of small canvas boards which the artist paints progressively, assembles and then re-assembles to explore the complex possibilities of subdivision, recombination and the indefinite extension of an image or idea.

Living in the small town of Cooma in New South Wales, Tillers' work reflects on the history of human habitation in the Australian landscape indigenous, settler and the migrant history of more recent times.

Caja Negra takes as its point of departure a work by the Australian colonial artist Eugene von Guerard depicting the junction of the Snowy River in New South Wales and the Buchan River in Gippsland.

The work carries the names of a number of towns along the length of the Snowy River from its source at Mount Kosciusko to its mouth at Marlo in Southern Victoria. One of these localities happens to be named El Paso, a discovery that had particular resonance for Tillers who at the time of painting this work, had recently returned from Mexico. The skeleton in the top corner of the work can be interpreted within this context, drawing on the traditional folk art of the Mexican 'Day of the Dead' to suggest the history of lives lived and lost in the land.

I was in the middle of painting Caja Negra when the events of September 11 took place, which possibly accounts for the visual turbulence of conflicting fields of text over the generally bleak background which is a feature of this work. The central T shape is derived from Colin McCahon's painting 'A letter to Hebrews' which is a meditation on the concept of faith. Imants Tillers 2001

© Imants Tillers

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The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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