Flowers is pleased to present an exhibition titled Cityscapes surveying several of our artists who engage with the themes of urban life. Included in this collection are David Hepher, Peter Howson, Patrick Hughes, Lucy Jones, Nadav Kander, John Keane, Mona Kuhn, Jiro Osuga, Tai-Shan Schierenberg and Renny Tait.
Each of these artists interacts with the city in a unique capacity. David Hepher uses real building materials, such as concrete, in his paintings. Patrick Hughes and Lucy Jones both lead us to question our perception of reality with their works: Hughes with his three-dimensional relief paintings and Jones with her impressionistic interpretations of the cityscape. Peter Howson, Nadav Kander and John Keane bring social commentary to the discussion, drawing on the presence of war and violence, and also the rapid development of urban settings. Photographer Mona Kuhn is know for her nude portraiture, but here she shows us a glimpse of Venice, exposed. Renny Tait and Tai-Shan Schierenberg explore the light, textures and geometry of the city in their paintings, while Jiro Osuga plays with spaces that make up contemporary city life.
David Hepher is a painter of remarkable originality. In this age of increasing polarity in contemporary art, his work lies at the junction between the conceptual and the traditional. Hepher's subject matter, ranging from near life-size suburban house-fronts to monumental tower-blocks, allies him with the avant garde; so too does his frequent use of real architectural materials like concrete or wallpaper. Yet his mastery also places him in a more conservative camp. As a consequence he has perhaps still to be fully recognised by those who champion the 'cutting edge' in art. David Hepher was born in Surrey in 1935. He studied at Camberwell School of Art and the Slade. In the 70s he exhibited in solo exhibitions at the Serpentine and the Whitechapel and in important group exhibitions internationally. Flowers Gallery has been associated with his work since Angela Flowers opened her first gallery in 1970 and has exhibited his work at home and abroad ever since. Hepher was a senior lecturer in painting at Chelsea School of Art from 1981 - 1990 and subsequently became professor and head of Undergraduate Painting at the Slade. His work is to be found in a number of important Public Collections including, Tate Gallery, London, Museum of London, The Arts Council, British Council, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Peter Howson has established a formidable reputation as one of his generation's leading figurative painters. Many of his paintings derive inspiration from the streets of Glasgow, where he was brought up. He is renowned for his penetrating insight into the human condition, and his heroic portrayals of the mighty and meek. His art is described by Robert Heller as "founded in Humanity, especially the human face". Howson was born in London in 1958. He studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1975 - 1977, and returned in 1979 to complete a Masters degree . In 1985 he was made the Artist in Residence at the University of St Andrews and also a part-time tutor at Glasgow School of Art. In 1992 he was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to record the conflict in the former Yugoslavia . He was appointed official British war artist for Bosnia in 1993 and a few years later in 1996 was awarded Doctor of Letters Honoras Causa, University of Strathclyde. Peter Howson has exhibited with Flowers since the 1980s. His work has been shown in major shows around the world including the 'Eye on Europe' exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and 'The Naked Portrait' exhibition in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2007.
Prior to converting to Christianity in 2000 , Howson responded to pain by pursuing hedonism. His experiences of abuse - whether self-inflicted and substance-related or the traumatic events of his childhood - have afforded him an affinity with those individuals who are classed as somehow 'on the edge'. His work has caught the attention of a number of prominent cultural figures, celebrities and creatives as well as striking a chord with prisoners, a voiceless demographic from whom Howson receives many letters of support. His ability to speak to the peripheries - to both the exclusive echelons living 'the highlife' and the socially alienated outsiders labelled 'low lives' - is proof of his enduring skill at capturing the maverick, excessive and non-conformist, while also seeking spiritual change.
Howson recently completed a dramatic rendering of the martyrdom of St John Ogilvie for the renovated St Andrew's Cathedral in Glasgow. The process of working on the commission has been the subject of a BBC documentary recorded over the past two years. Howson was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours for sevices to the visual arts.
Patrick Hughes made his first three dimensional relief painting in 1964 - his intention to do the opposite of what was done. Thirty-five years on, he is still doing so. Exhibiting with Angela Flowers Gallery since its inception in 1970, Hughes' painted reliefs constantly baffle his audience, demonstrating how deceptive appearances can be. As we walk towards the seemingly flat paintings they loom out at us, creating a disorientating, 'moving' experience. The preconceived assumptions of eye and brain are challenged, inevitably raising important questions about our perception and the subconscious. His witty illusions are not meant to confuse us (although they do), but aim to clarify our relation to reality. Instead of describing paradox, we can now experience it interactively; for his work is more to do with us, the way we think and the way we perceive.
Lucy Jones is renowned for both her imposing, challenging self-portraits, and for her expressionistic landscapes. Her landscape paintings evolve from hard-earned studies made while in the landscape, placing a board on the ground to make either a drawing or a watercolour. During these intensive, painfully uncomfortable sessions, throughout which she kneels on the ground, the landscape becomes inscape. 'I'm so terribly inside the experience that I can't see what I've done until much later on.' These sketches later become the inspiration for oil landscape paintings made in the studio. In contrast to this her self-portrait works are critical examinations, and reaffirmations of self. Encompassing strength, humanity and wit, they are statements as much about the human condition as her own. Jones studied at Camberwell School of Art, followed by the Royal College of Art, where she won a Rome scholarship in 1982. Born in London, she now lives in Ludlow, and is much inspired by the landscape area bordering Wales, Herefordshire and Shropshire.
Nadav Kander has forged an international reputation as one of the most highly regarded photographers of our time. His work is included in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He was named International Photographer of the Year at the 7th Annual Lucie Awards in 2009 and has received awards from the Art Director's Club and IPA in the USA, the D&AD and the John Kobal Foundation in the UK and Epica in Europe. He was awarded the Royal Photographic Society's 'Terence Donovan' Award in 2002 and the Silver Photographer of the Year at the Lianzhou International Photo Festival in China in 2008. Kander was chosen as the winner of the prestigious Prix Pictet award in 2009.
John Keane was born in Hertfordshire in 1954 and attended Camberwell School of Art. His work has focused on many of the most pressing political questions of our age, and he came to national prominence in 1991 when he was appointed as official British war artist during the Gulf War. His work has always been deeply concerned with conflict - military, political and social - in Britain and around the world and his subjects have included Northern Ireland, Central America, and the Middle East, sometimes working with organisations such as Greenpeace and Christian Aid. More recent subject matter has addressed difficult topics relating to religiously inspired terrorism such as Guantanamo Bay, the Moscow theatre siege, and home-grown acts of violence against civilians. In recent years he has also become known for commissioned portraits of notable individuals such as Mo Mowlam, John Snow and Kofi Annan. He lives and works in London.
Mona Kuhn photographs beautiful nudes that are not simply about being naked. They are about the body being a residence of who we are as human beings. Through intimacy with her subjects, knowledge of traditional iconography, and technical mastery, Kuhn portrays the complexities of human nature, both tempting and provoking the viewer's imagination. Her body of work includes images from a French naturist colony and her birthplace of Brazil where she returned after a 20 year absence.
Jiro Osuga was born in Japan, he studied fine art at St Martins, Chelsea and the Royal College of Art, he has lived in the UK for over 30 years. Osuga casts a critical eye over every aspect of contemporary life - from manhole covers to museums, cafes and train stations. The results are often humorous and exuberant. Recent exhibitions include: Queens Terrace Café, Japanese Embassy Piccadilly, Streatham Festival and has work in the Museum of London and the Royal College of art.
Born in England in 1962, Tai-Shan Schierenberg lives and works in London. He graduated from the Slade School of Art in 1987 and in 1989, won first prize in the National Portrait Gallery's John Player Portrait Award. He was then commissioned to paint Sir John Mortimer for the Gallery.The National Portrait Gallery also holds his portraits of Lord Carrington from 1994, Lord Sainsbury 2002 and most recently Seamus Heaney from 2004. Other noted commissions include Professor Stephen Hawking, Sir John Madejski and a double portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. For Schierenberg, there is an 'emotional charge' that comes from the different textures and densities, and ultimately the light conditions, that occur in a place at a certain time. He describes his process in 2010: "Painting and painting and painting, endlessly exploring ideas in paint on canvas, always painting my way. Finding that over time I can't see the trees for the paint. Sometimes its good to try a new way, a different path, expose oneself to the vagaries of chance - and see the trees again."
Renny Tait was born in Scotland in 1965. He studied at the Edinburgh College of Art (1983-88), the Royal College of Art (1988-90) and the British School in Rome ( 1990-91). His work is included in a number of private and public collections including the Royal College of Art and the Tate Collection. Tait began his career as an abstract painter, and still approaches his work with an abstract artist's mentality. This is evidenced in his propensity to reduce forms to their bare geometry and flatten the picture plane to accentuate the edges of the canvas. Tait is also deeply conscious of the great tradition of painting and looks to the Old Masters, most notably, Giovanni Bellini, Titian and Poussin, for inspiration. This underlying structure, supported by the artist's classical skill and painterly sensibility, creates a visual harmony that is both powerful and seductive.