Born in 1932, in Huddersfield, David Tindle was educated at Coventry School of Art from 1945-46. Much of his work comprises delicate egg tempera portraits as well as interior scenes, often showing glimpsed views through doors and windows, which recall the eerie disquiet of Andrew Wyeth and Vilhelm Hammershøi. One particular still life (Still Life with Plastic Cup and Spoon), in the Tate’s permanent collection, “was prompted by a plastic spoon pushed through a polystyrene cup. Tindle has placed them on what looks like an altar. He sees the cup and spoon as a crucifix and the egg as a container of life”. Tindle has written of his work: ‘Perhaps I see religion frozen in time, but ready to break out of ordinary objects.’ As such, many of his paintings possess a quiet profundity. For the art critic Brian Sewell, Tindle “is a painter in that quietly Romantic tradition of British art … concerned with small, intimate, domestic subjects that are synecdochisms for the greater grandeurs of Turner’s sunset, twilit calms, and as inseperable from method and technique”.
Tindle had his first solo show in 1954 at Piccadilly Gallery, London, and, in the same year, participated in a mixed exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, where he exhibited intermittently until 1989. His early work caught the attention of John Minton, who purchased a self-potrait, and introduced him to the likes of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. The early works were delicately painted; his 1954 still life of a broken egg shell is, according to Ian Massey, “an essay in subtly inflected light and shadow”. By 1960, Tindle favoured heavily painted, encrusted surfaces and a muted palette, in a series of atmospheric, abstracted views of urban landscapes. In the mid 1960s he experimented with dynamic, diluted brushstrokes, and began taking a serious interest in the application and surface of paint. After visiting the frescoes of Massacio in Florence, Tindle started to use egg tempera for his work, a laborious process of building up the image with thin layers of paint. Sally-Ann Schilling has described how Tindle’s images become “haunted visionary spaces”, wherein “light, in a rich but subtle range of tone, emanates from beneath the surface of the picture”. As such, Tindle soon won acclaim for his mastery of a neglected medium, and featured in various notable survey shows of painting during the 1960s and ’70s, including British Painting ’74, as organised by the Arts Council of Great Britain and staged at the Hayward Gallery, and 25 Years of British Painting, at the Royal Academy. In recent years, Tindle has moved towards disturbing, dream-like imagery, in which biblical references occur, as the artist grapples with past and present relationships and his own mortality. Of his new work, Tindle has remarked that “I am no longer content to use the ever ready window-scape, as it does not satisfy my many interests and neither does it fulfil the vision of my inner eye”.
As well as working as a professional artist, Tindle has spent much of his life teaching, primarily at Hornsey College of Art between 1959 and 1974, and then at the Royal College of Art between 1972 and 1983. Tindle was also for a time the Ruskin Master of Drawing at Oxford University, and held a professional fellowship at St Edmund Hall. Tindle has also designed stage sets for the Aldeburgh Festival, and was commissioned in 1986 to paint the portrait of Sir Dirk Bogarde for the National Portrait Gallery. He was also one of twelve artists, along with Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton, to paint a portrait of members of The Who, for their 1982 album Face Dances. Tindle was elected a Royal Academician in 1979 (ARA 1973) and made a Fellow of the Royal College of Art in 1981. His work, which was the subject of a large-scale retrospective at Huddersfield Art Gallery in 2016, is held in all the major UK public collections.
David Tindle is represented by the Redfern Gallery.