Stylistically, this lyrical late figure painting falls between the distortions of Figure 1961, once owned by the Tate curator David Brown and bequeathed by him to Southampton City Art Gallery, and the even wilder late drawings and gouaches, made in the 1970s when Hilton was bed-bound by illness. It is among the last oil paintings that Hilton made, and although there was a small group painted in 1970-72 (the final ones on board), 1968-69 marks a final high point of creativity in oils before the artist’s physical decline made easel painting increasingly difficult. Green Grass recalls the marvellous anarchic celebration of his two December 1963 paintings, Oi Yoi Yoi (Tate Gallery, London) and Dancing Woman (National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh), while through its forms introducing a further element of organic unfolding and growth. The drawing is looser than ever but no less energetic, and the characteristic Hilton combination of charcoal and oil (figure and ground) is deployed to full effect. The title suggests someone lying on the grass, but perhaps the bone-white figure is buried below the surface, a potent source of regeneration.
We are very grateful to Andrew Lambirth for preparing this catalogue entry.