Rose Wylie

The story of Wylie’s rise to fame is both unusual and wonderful. Wylie was almost completely unknown until 2010, when feminist academic Germaine Greer wrote an article in The Guardian entitled: ‘Who is Britain’s hottest new artist? A 76-year-old called Rose Wylie.’ Since then, Wylie’s works have been exhibited in major museums and galleries all around the world.

The colourful, billboard-sized work Billie Piper (A Combo Painting) is characteristic of the artist’s spontaneous and anarchic style. Wylie began the painting in 1994, inspired by her daughter’s wedding. Two decades later, after seeing a photograph of Billie Piper in the Observer, she returned to the work and stapled a portrait of the actor on top of it. What had been a blue wedding marquee became a skirt for the bare-breasted, reclining Billie.

The work has an air of both freedom and fragility. Painted directly on to unstretched, unprimed canvas and framed by strips of loosely stuck black fabric, it resembles a tapestry as much as a painting. It combines a variety of collaged materials and mediums: oil paint on canvas and watercolour on paper, as well as the visible staples. It also juxtaposes abstract shapes and forms with surprising details, such as Piper’s comb-like hands.