In recent years, the floral paintings of Tim Maguire have been accorded extensive critical, curatorial and commercial attention. This acclaim, which has come from diverse sections of the arts community, recognises the artist's unique integration of digital technologies with painterly technique and his contemporary renewal of a traditional art-historical theme.
As an artist who has found inspiration in European art historical traditions, it is perhaps natural that Maguire has made his home in Europe since winning the Moet & Chandon Artist's Fellowship in 1993. Maguire spent many years in France and only recently relocated to England where he divides his time between a studio in London and his home in Sussex.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Maguire's paintings is his ability to translate the beloved art historical genre of still-life into a contemporary idiom. The means by which he achieves this is technique. In the past, Maguire worked from reproductions of still-lifes by 17th and 18th century Dutch Masters. His source is now nature itself, passed through digital technology and finally transmuted into paint.
Maguire takes digital images that he then downloads onto his computer. Using computer programme tools such as manipulation, cropping and colour balance and enhancement, he achieves an image that serves as a working model for the painting. With printouts, in which the colours have been separated acting as guides, he then paints each layer of the work individually. While the paint is still drying, the artist flicks solvent at the surface and then re-works it with his brush.
In a discussion of this final stage of his working methods, Maguire has been recorded as saying: "It sounds pretty scientific but, of course, the flicking is pretty random and I am doing the colour by eye... The solvent exposes pure points of yellow and pure points of white... It becomes almost pointillist." (T Maguire cited in "Solving the issue of scale", The Age, 13 May 2003, p.11)
This unique working method results in a pixellated quality that recalls the photographic origins of the work. The blend of the technological with the hand-painted also situates the painting between figuration and the abstraction of digital animation.
The immense scale of the work is another important element that continues this recurring theme of the juxtaposition of the past and the present. The panoramic dimensions evoke both the lushness and excess of Baroque painting, as well as the cinematic experience of the close-up. There is a tension in the work between the surface, which entices the viewer to close inspection, and the scale of the work, which demands distance in order for the subject matter to be comprehended.