Bill Jacklin

Biography of Bill Jacklin

Born and raised in London, Bill Jacklin rose to prominence in the 1960s for his highly abstract compositions. His early background in graphics saw him integrate in his canvases stripped back grids, planes and dots, establishing the artist firmly within the then popular movement of abstraction. After working in a design studio in central London for several years, the artist’s interests changed abruptly. He became fascinated by depictions of changing light and movement, and enrolled at the Royal Academy of Art to study painting. It was here that Bill Jacklin learned to paint in the emotive, figurative manner for which he is known today.


The artist recalls that it was his childhood memories—growing up in war-torn London, or escaping on family retreats to the picturesque English counties of Devon and Dorset—which informed his first non-abstract paintings.


In 1985 Bill Jacklin moved to New York. Enthralled by the constant buzz and boundless energy of the city, he began dedicating his time to portraying the metropolis in its infinite guises. Famous New York landmarks such as Grand Central Station, Times Square and Central Park became the recurring subjects of Bill Jacklin’s oeuvre, representing a seminal change to his earlier oils so often inspired by the dewy fresh air of England’s coastal countryside.


The artist was offered to take on the Official Artist-in-Residence Program of the British Council in 1993, taking him to Hong Kong. This trip would awaken similar emotions, as the artist concentrated on depicting (largely through the medium of etching) the everyday lives of city dwellers, and somewhat nostalgic cityscapes of the former British colony.


Throughout his artistic career, Bill Jacklin has had a persistent interest in printmaking, to this day dedicating time to producing monotypes. The artist claims that in his prints, unlike in his paintings, he does not start with a composition but instead starts with a black plate and then allows light to come in to determine a composition. Through such a method, the artist manifests his sensory approach to subjects and continued interest in the movement and treatment of light.


Bill Jacklin has exhibited widely across the United Kingdom, most notably in 2016 at the Royal Academy in London which showcased his etchings from the 1960s alongside more recent monotypes.  His work can also be found in the permanent collections of The Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Tate Britain and the Victoria & Albert in London. The artist was elected a Royal Academian in 1991, and has been commissioned for numerous projects most notably by the Bank of England and the Washington National Airport.

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