Lillian Delevoryas is a Bristol-based American artist whose career spans six decades.
Trained in Fine Art, Calligraphy and Woodblock printing she initially achieved recognition during the 1970s for her pioneering work in Appliqué and Tapestry for both the Fashion and Interior design industries. In the 1980s this recognition led to commissions for commercial applications over a range of consumer products; most notably pottery, textile and paper. Since the 1990s, Delevoryas has returned to painting and continued to exhibit and promote her work. She has lived in the UK since the early 1970s and was married to the writer and poet Robin Amis.
In 2012 Lillian underwent surgery for a shoulder replacement on her right arm.
Although the operation was a success from a medical point of view, as a result, Lillian lost the ability in her ‘painting hand’ to execute the finer movements required when using a paintbrush.She tried different alternatives – including the iPad, which served her well in capturing ideas and composing with a greater degree of freedom. But it still wasn’t able to give her hand the ability use a paint brush in the time honoured fashion.
To meet this challenge, she found she could convert from iPad to oil paint by using varied, less demanding techniques that she could still manage, such as impasto, with palette knife, collage and printing.
“In the Library” collection originated from a number of small sketches Lillian had drawn on the iPad using some of the new techniques she was exploring. Each work began with a unifying factor – in this case, the library shelves – which were achieved by using an impasto technique, onto which she created the books using a graffitto technique. She used this black and white as the ground to which she added figures or flowers.
At this point we see influence from a range of her favourite artists including the likes of Danish artist, Vilhelm Hammershøi.
Lillian’s use of collage stemmed from her days of working in fabric applique – the medium which brought her to England in 1970, when she created sumptuous garments and hangings for pop stars and the rich and famous. After being a painter for several years, she moved into the field of designing high fashion clothes and wall hangings. For the next seven years she worked in this medium. Her wedding garment designed in 1972, was exhibited in the V & A ‘Here Come the Brides’ exhibition which ran from 2012 – 2014. After the exhibition, Lillian donated the garment to the permanent collection of the V & A.
This series is a direct link to that earlier period. Fabrics have always inspired her, and in “In the Library” collection, a piece of black and white African material served as the basis for the series, and in fact kick started it. Her favourite model Melahat came back from Scotland with a tartan plaid shawl – which found its way into several of the paintings. To create these, Lillian photographed the shawl, printed the results, and then collaged them onto the surface. Then she would adapt the patterns to suit the surrounding areas – touching up and altering the colour where necessary.
So what began as an impediment, turning into a challenge of finding a completely new way of working and inspired by her beloved master Matisse, whose last cut outs show a remarkable vitality which belies the age of the artist, we have a beautiful, and as yet unseen collection of some 30 works of art.
“Lillian Delevoryas is a painter who deserves our attention because when we look seriously at her work over the years, we can see much that will reward us from all periods of her career. Above all we can see a map of one woman’s exploration of what it means to be human and to love and have sympathy as she tries technique after technique in her quest of for the elusive moment of surprise. And they still happen. When the work succeeds, we still can admire the ‘how’ and we certainly still share the ‘wow’. In her 8 th year Lillian Delevoryas retains the capacity to surprise us and that surely is the delight of her past and on-going work.” Don Carleton
“I would know if my work had reached its desired end – which was to bring one to a state of stillness. I once read that some saint said the action of the Spirit was 3-fold: It was instantaneous, unpredictable and unexpected. When that happens in my work, I know I’m on the right track.” Lillian Delevoryas
Please join us over the weekend of 5th and 6th August 2017 to enjoy with Lillian, the first viewing of Lillian Delevoryas, “In the Library” collection.