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Paul Feiler

Born 1918, Frankfurt, Germany. Died 2013.

Paul Feiler came to England in 1933 and attended the Slade School of Art from 1936 to 1939. Interned in Canada at the outbreak of the Second World War, Feiler returned to Britain in 1941 to begin his career as an artist. He first visited Cornwall in 1949 and its landscape and history as an artists' colony profoundly affected his artistic vision. In 1953, Feiler bought the chapel of erstwhile artist Stanhope Forbes at Kerris, near Paul, Newlyn. Later, he decided to move there permanently with his second wife, the painter, Catherine Armitage.

Of particular relevance to the development of Feiler's distinctive style was his association with the St Ives group of artists. Ben Nicholson and his new wife, Barbara Hepworth, the group's central figures, mentored budding artists similarly enthused by the light and landscape of Cornwall. By the 1950s Feiler was part of this milieu of young artists, which included Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, Bryan Wynter, Terry Frost and Roger Hilton. Inspired by the unusual colours and light of the Cornish coast, he set about forging a medium of visual expression; increasingly abstract and highly concentrated on the dynamics of pigmentation and space. Feiler's abstraction, like that of his peers, does not abandon all its ties to the external environment, but uses light, colour and space to render this experience in pictorial terms.

Feiler's use of paint during this period also had strong affinities with the Russian artist Nicholas de Stael, whose experiments invigorated the post-war Paris School. Painting with thick, luxuriously textured brushstrokes of colour, de Stael was one of the proponents of 'Tachisme', the gestural or painterly approach to art that was the European counterpart of Jackson Pollock's Action Painting technique. For Feiler, as for de Stael, the painted canvas bore the marks of the artist's activity.

Paul Feiler made ceramic wall tiles for the architects Yorke, Rosenberg, Mardall in several buildings in London and the Londonderry Hospital, Northern Ireland. This association with the University's architect, Eugene Rosenberg, led to the early purchase of his work for the University of Warwick collection.

Examples of Feiler’s work are held in numerous British collections, including the Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Kettle’s Yard and the Arts Council. International collections featuring his work include the Gallery of Modern Art in Washington, DC; the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris; and the Toronto Art Gallery in Canada.

Anthony O' Hear, Paul Feiler, Modern Painters, vol. 12, no. 2, Summer 1999, pg. 94-95, contains an analyses of Feiler's later works.

Crossed Forms