‘Reef’ by Myriam Tillson
Artist: Myriam Tillson
Medium: Acrylic on Watercolour Paper
Dimensions: 17.5″ x 13″
Year of Creation: 2020
About the Artwork:
“REEF is a representation of the duality of life, the fact that life comes from the death of life. As humans, we have a strange relationship to life and death. We are acutely aware of their relationship, but seem to oppose it, to reject death and be confused by life. We have a complicated perception of what one is to the other, and our confusion can lead to existential crisis and loss of self, as much as it can help us let go of ourselves to thrive and evolve and grow.
REEF refers to the the idea that coral reefs are shelters and places that allow life to thrive, but it also refers to everything that comes with that imagery, shipwrecks, hidden obstacles, tragedies and turmoil. The red organism is growing from the head, but it is unclear whether it is invading it or growing from it. It is stopping the head from being able to see, hear, and speak, and therefore plays the role of a parasite, but it has also become a shelter for fragile life forms, such as delicate butterflies and the invisible spiders that have built their webs upon its structure.
I like when the elements in my pieces are dual in their meaning, and this piece is no exception. I intentionally leave it unclear whether the red branches are part of an invader that is stifling the head, or a life from that found fuel to grow from, but isn’t impeding the head’s own growth and evolution. The butterflies are bits of life and beauty, and I played on the fact that butterflies are often associated with the soul of the dead in many cultures. The webs are a sign of life too, but are deadly traps for the delicate white butterflies. The red limbs are the reefs upon which the insects are thriving, but those same insects are also feeding off of bleeding wounds in some of the cut branches.
This is my favourite type of theme to explore, the duality of life and its intricate and intimate relationship with death, and how it all intertwines into a complex and unfathomable dance.” – Myriam Tillson
About the Artist:
Myriam Tillson is a French traditional artist, who currently lives and works in London, in the UK. She works primarily in watercolour, gouache, and acrylic, and focuses on dark and surrealist imagery. Her work aims to be both whimsical and disturbing, and plays on the relationship between the lighter, more beautiful side of life, and its more complex and unsettling aspects. The world is rather absurd, and Myriam strives to capture its complicated, layered, and overall contradictory nature by creating pieces that make the viewer question the intent and meaning behind the image. Her work relies on each viewer interpreting her pieces in their own way, and adding their own point of view to the paintings, as that plays into the multi-layered nature of the world she wants to represent.