Born in 1918 in Frankfurt am Main, Paul Feiler came to England in 1933. He came from a family of academics and one of his uncles was a high ranking government politician in the Weimar Republic. As with so many, the inauguration of the Hitler era and the coming to power of the Nazi's resulted in his family's exodus. From 1936 to 1939 he studied at the Slade School and between 1941 and 1946 taught at Eastbourne and Radley. He came to the West of England College of Art in 1946 where he stayed until 1975 during which time he became Head of Painting. In 1949 he first visited Cornwall and in1953 bought a chapel at Kerris, Paul, near Penzance where he now still lives. The studio had been Stanhope Forbes' first studio in Cornwall.
Paul Feiler has always been concerned with the architecture of space and the ambiguity of our visual experiences. From the early 1950s, when he became known for his gestural abstractions inspired by the structure of natural forms, to his recent work expressing shrine-like portals, Feilers' paintings are sensitive constructions using space, tone and light, leading to simplification.
Originally associated with the post-war Modernists in St Ives, by 1953, Feiler had moved permanently to Cornwall. Inspired by the Cornish light and landscape, his painting during this and the following decade became influenced by Abstract Expressionism. However, his abstraction has consistently drawn on external sources, using light, tone and space to render an environment in pictorial terms.
During the 1970's the character of Feiler's work changed dramatically. He began painting thinly glazed surfaces of mechanically organised geometric forms. Meditative paintings relating to recessive spaces and projecting forms developed from themes of 'the hidden' and 'the shrine'. Superimposed squares of closely gradated tone, latterly incorporating gold or silver leaf, have a quiet movement, the square and circle becoming the central motif. Feiler uses these spatial explorations of the horizontal and the vertical as a gateway for the viewer to make potent connections with the world as he makes it.
He has had numerous solo exhibitions including several at the Redfern Gallery in London, from 1959 to 2000, Arnolfini Bristol in 1961, the Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh, in1969, the John Hansard Gallery in, Southampton in 1982, the Warwick Arts Trust, London in 1982 and a retrospective in 1995/6 at the Tate Gallery, St Ives. In September 2005 the Tate St Ives showed work spanning six decades of the artist's career.
Group exhibitions include The Bristol City Art Gallery in 1950, British Contemporary Paintings at the Arts Council Gallery in London in1953, the Tate Gallery in 1954, the John Moore's in Liverpool in 1961, the New Art Centre London in 1977, St Ives 1939 - 64 at the Tate Gallery, London in1985, Austin Desmond Fine Art in 1989 and several group exhibitions at the Redfern Gallery in Cork Street.
His work is represented in collections in Austria, Canada, France, New Zealand and the USA as well as many key collections in the UK such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Tate Gallery, London, the Arts Council of Great Britain, Kettles Yard Museum, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery amongst others. In recent years his work has been much sought after and auction prices have been very strong