Imants Tillers has been identified as a quintessential postmodern artist in his use of appropriation and quotation. Since 1981 he has used his signature canvas boards to explore themes relevant to contemporary culture, from the centre/periphery debates of the 1980s to the effects of migration, displacement and diaspora. Most recently, his paintings have been concerned with place, locality and evocations of the landscape.
Imants Tillers and Baldessin met on their way to the Bienal de Sao Paulo in 1975 and in the following year worked on two collaborative etching plates in Paris that were printed by Pierre Giarudon. 'Unsaid + Nameless' harks back to his experiences with Baldessin in Paris forty years ago. It is a poignant image of absence that can be read in the tradition of the momento mori.
George Baldessin (1939-1978) was born in San Biagio di Callalta, in the Veneto in Northern Italy and arrived in Australia ten years later. A printmaker and sculptor he built his bluestone studio at St Andrews (Nillumbik) in 1971 with his partner Tess and the three Hails brothers, Rob, Doug and Don. Made of recycled materials the studio today contains all of George’s equipment including the large press, which he modelled himself with the help of Neil Jeffrey (Enjay Presses).
George won many prizes throughout his career and is represented in many of Australia's public art collections including his famous 'Pears' sculpture in front of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. In 1975 he represented Australia in the Sao Paulo Biennale, before living and working in Paris until his return to St Andrews in 1977. In 1978 George was killed in a car accident aged 39 years. In 2001 Tess returned to St Andrews to reclaim the run-down studio and reconstitute it as The Baldessin Press & Studio - a printmaking retreat. It operates in George’s memory, so that artists may continue to create, perpetuating the generous spirit of George.
'Unsaid + Nameless' is one of eight prints in the 'Baldessin & Friends commemorative folio. The folio was conceived by Tess Edwards as a fundraising initiative in celebration of the The Baldessin Press & Studio's fifteen year anniversary, and as a way to honour George Baldessin's memory. The Baldessin Press & Studio is a not-for-profit organisation created in memory of the late George Baldessin (1939-1978), whose original studio is now open to the public for creative use and as a practical legacy to living artists. The Studio is located in St Andrews, Nillumbik. The folio is a unique coming together of seven very different and acclaimed artists who are connected by their friendship to the missing eighth member, George Baldessin.
In 1976 Baldessin and Tillers embarked on the collaborative work 'According to des Esseintes'; a post modern Surrealist game of consequences and sequences. In homage to his friendship and work, Tillers completed an unfinished Baldessin plate from 1976 inspired from their 'des Esseintes' collaboration. The addition of Odilon Redon's 'smiling spider' is indicative of Tiller's broader post-modern approach.
Solar plate etching of Odilon Redon's 'Laraignee souriante' (The Smiling Spider) on an incomplete plate etched by George Baldessin in 1976 on Somerset paper. Other images include skewed perspectives of a wooden window frame, 'wooden' floor or table(?) folded sheet of paper and unknown apparatus.
Inscriptions & markings
In pencil (handwritten): low plate: left '14/25' (edition); centre: 'Unsaid + Nameless' (title); right 'Imants Tillers' (signature); low paper: right emboss 'GB' (Baldessin Press & Studio monogram)