Brian Tilbrook

An Appreciation of Brian Tilbrook's Art - by Peter Moss


‘I tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an emotional and philosophical content.’
The words are those of the late Stanley Kubrick, describing his film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

They might almost be those of Brian Tilbrook...

The startlingly futuristic vision of Kubrick’s excessively prophetic film, on which he collaborated with Arthur C Clarke, is one that accords with Tilbrook’s own artistic temperament, his own spatial odyssey.

Tilbrook’s works have made a considerable contribution to the visual arts not only of Hong Kong but of South East Asia in general, for his murals can be found in public buildings scattered throughout its cities.

I have watched Tilbrook’s style develop and mature over the forty years and more since I first encountered it in what was then Malaya, back in 1962. I was present at his first exhibition in the British Council Hall in Kuala Lumpur the following year, and I have attended numerous others he has since staged in Hong Kong, where he has happily lived the greater part of his life.

I have always been struck by his remarkable consistency of purpose. Where it might be difficult to detect that the early and later works of Picasso developed from the same artistic mind, there is no such gulf separating early and later Tilbrook. The unmistakable evolution that has taken place in that breadth of time spans one unbroken arc.

Tilbrook admirers, of whom there are many, include those who delight in his romantic landscapes and highly atmospheric portraits of historical buildings, and those who prefer that leap outside the bounds of reality into what he calls his ‘semi-abstracts’. In all the years over which I have gained familiarity with his work, I have known him equally capable of both, but veering more towards the latter.

‘Semi-abstract’ is a fitting description for Tilbrook’s work for what it conjures are landscapes one might encounter in a parallel universe, where objects appear deceptively familiar but remain elusively apart; twin moons vibrating in diaphanous cloud curtains, monoliths in moonlight, inscribed with indecipherable texts; a world where texture and form are almost but not entirely tactile and tangible.

Peter Moss, 2001