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Bill Bate & the human form

Bill Bate was born in Liverpool in 1962 and is a graduate in Fine Art from the Central School of Art London (now known as Central Saint Martins). His work focuses on the human form. By the use of dramatic light his atmospheric works are emotional responses to the body in movement, at rest, and the body observed; he has always been inspired by the human figure and the effect light has upon it.

Bill has used a variety of methods to portray the body such as dance, swimming and also boxing, but it is the physicality of the form and the beauty of the athletic figure that drives him to paint. He usually has an idea of how he wants the painting to look, but in some pieces the original idea moves into something else and he leaves some of the older workings (the initial sketches and drawings) exposing the “structure” and “energy” behind the work.

I want the paint to have a life of its own and so leave its application quite loose at times. I endeavour to escape the confines that realism can impose, leaving more expression and less constraint.

Bill has been painting for a number of years and during that time has developed a striking and dramatic style which attempts to convey emotionally charged work using light and shadow as well as rich and contrasting colour. He works largely with oil and his particular characteristic is the nebulous smoky aurora surrounding striking life forms, which is enhanced only by his exquisite use of brush strokes. Early influences include the Italian Renascence period. He uses foreshortening, shadowing and detail to portray scenes that draw out the emotion of the viewer.

“I use a lot life drawing for reference but information and ideas come from all areas, films, books and magazines are all utilised to reinforce the imagery of the painting. Klimt, Bacon, Schiele, Leonardo Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Waterhouse are some of the artists that I have studied and that have had a great influence on my work”.

Bill’s paintings are concerned with powerful opposites, creating potently atmospheric pieces that are emotionally charged. His use of colour and movement embodies the complexities and excitement, as well as the violence and tenderness of the human experience. The passionate and curiously spiritual aspect of his work lends great elegance and power, demanding instant response and later, gentle contemplation to fully appreciate the inherent beauty of his work.

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