Charlie Smith London is delighted to present Hugh Mendes in his first solo since his sell-out 2018 exhibition ‘Autorretrato’. In response to that exhibition, where he made a series of obituary paintings based almost entirely on self-portraits of male artists, Mendes switches focus here. Having emphasised the inherited bias of a male dominated history of western art, Mendes continues by affirming the breadth and power of women artists from the 16th to 20th centuries who are influential and inspirational to him.
Mendes began making still life paintings of newspaper articles in 2001. As his practice has evolved his intentions have become gradually more specific, progressing from painting mostly political articles to obituaries of those of interest generally, to obituaries of artists and then those derived solely from self-portraits. Mendes also began to revert from the present exclusively to historical figures. And always, throughout his career, he has steadfastly painted subjects of profound personal interest.
Mendes goes to great lengths to understand his subjects. As an experienced artist and BA / MA tutor at City & Guilds of London Art School, he is most often familiar with their life and work. However, Mendes embarks on deep research by reading; watching videos; listening to interviews where possible; and most importantly going to visit the original work. He seeks to bring the persona of the artist into his studio; and almost inhabit their work, entering into a profound dialogue with his subjects. The result is slow painting that represents an intriguing synthesis of the style of Mendes; his subjects; and the mechanical reproductive processes that occur in between.