Tony Beavan


2 May - 22 June 2003

Tony Bevan is one of Britain’s most distinguished contemporary painters. Born in Bradford in 1951, he trained at the Slade School of Art and has exhibited widely since his first solo showin 1976. This year Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal is celebrating his prolific career with a retrospective of paintings and drawings (14 April – 26 June). MK G’s exhibition will focus on the very large-scale paintings which Bevan has made in the last 5-10 years of his career, some of which he has never been able to show before due to their size, including one new piece.

The human figure, particularly the head, has occupied Bevan for much of his career. Many ofhis paintings show heads, often with elongated necks, reaching upwards or outwards into the blank space of the rest of the canvas. They are powerfully suggestive of isolation and suffering, but also offer the hope of human resilience and the will to survive. In the last decade or so Bevan has also been concentrating on the interiors of buildings, producing monochromatic, stark canvases which focus on the structural elements of an interior and inwhich repeating patterns are emphasised. All the works due to be shown at MK G deal withthese two subjects.

Bevan paints on a monumentally large scale, laying his canvases out on the ground as wellas pinning them to the wall in a manner reminiscent of Jackson Pollock. Bevan’s emphasison materials has led him to make his own paint and to insist on the different quality of marks generated by charcoal made of different woods. He makes no attempt to conceal the fall-out of the painting process – his canvases are littered with small fragments of charcoal, studio dust and other debris which testify to the physicality of the process. The strong visual impact and large scale of Bevan’s work will be complemented by the clean elegance of MK G’s three gallery spaces.

Although inspired by a diverse range of art historical sources, including Mantegna, Holbein, Géricault, Manet and Bacon, Bevan is well known for his highly distinctive, wholly original style. He pushes the boundaries between drawing and painting, representation andabstraction in ways which make his limited subject-matter seem full of meaning and possibility.

Press Release