Flowers is delighted to present a selection of gallery artists including Claerwen James, John Kirby, Lucy Jones, Mona Kuhn, Nadav Kander, Nicola Hicks, Patrick Hughes, Rachel Heller, Richard Smith and Tom Phillips.
Claerwen James, born in 1970, originally trained as a molecular biologist at Oxford University and Cold Spring Harbor, NY. She graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2003, and has won various awards, most notably the Slade School's own Melvill Nettleship Prize for Figure Composition. Introduced to Flowers gallery by Andrew Stahl as part of our Artist of the Day programme in 2004, she has gone on to have numerous solo exhibitions both here in the UK and the US. All of the portraits originated as photographs: some scavenged, some taken by the artist, who believes that the awkwardness of the photographic moment is crucial to the painful, elegiac quality of the paintings. Among the images used are those from Claerwen James' own childhood. In 2006, Francis Spufford wrote that Claerwen James' subject matter is, in a sense, the photographic moment when a point in time is snatched from the flow, "sealed into stillness and set in strange relationship to the continued life... which we do not see in photographs but which they always imply, giving the medium its mortal edge."
Many of us like to think we are still young at heart. A youthful spirit suggests a certain freshness, an unselfconscious exuberance. But there is a darker side of youth which we often lose sight of amidst the anxieties of adulthood. Growing up is actually, by definition, about coming to terms with a confusing, frightening and alien world. John Kirby has spent his artistic career stripping away the defences behind which adults have learned to hide. His paintings describe, allegorically, the suffering of people squeezed into the straightjackets of religious, sexual and social norms. His haunting paintings, peopled by hybrid child-adults and transgendered, doll-like figures, point out the flaws in our rose-tinted view of childhood - and suggest that the child inside us may not be such a carefree spirit after all. John Kirby was born in Liverpool in 1949. He trained at Central St Martin and the Royal College of Art in London. He has exhibited extensively in Europe and the United States in Solo and Group Shows and his paintings are included in several prestigious Public and Private Collections.
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.
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. Born in Brazil in 1969, the first child of German parents, Mona Kuhn currently resides in Los Angeles. She has exhibited extensively in the United States, Europe, and South America. Steidl published her past two monographs Photographs (2004), Evidence (2007), as well as her most recent Native (2009). Her work is held in collections such as the Griffin Museum, Massachusetts; the Miami Art Museum, Florida; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; the Sir Elton John Collection, England; and the Buhl Foundation, New York.
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.
Born in London in 1960 Nicola Hicks studied at Chelsea School of Art, and took her MA at the Royal College of Art. She has had major solo shows in leading museums and galleries in Britain and around the world, and has already been honoured with a MBE for her contribution to the visual arts. Hicks' primary media are plaster and straw, and huge sheets of brown paper on which she works up her dynamic charcoal drawings. Many of the sculptures have subsequently been cast in bronze, often with such subtlety that every fragile detail of plaster and straw is reproduced. The study of anatomy and the discipline of drawing cannot be underestimated in Nicola Hicks' work. Although not concerned with mimetic representation her achievement is founded on a unique ability to capture the physicality and psychology of the animal and human figures she creates. Since 1984, she has had a number of successful solo exhibitions and has exhibited her work in India, Japan, America and Canada as well as across the UK, Ireland and Europe. In 1987 she accompanied the Henry Moore Memorial Exhibition to India, giving lectures and workshops, and working with Indian artists. Two years later she set up studio in Sydney, Australia in order to work in the bush. Hicks' work often combines charm and menace in equal and sometimes devastating measures.
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.
Heller focuses on life drawings, figures without vanity or pretension. Her drawings although impressionistic have intense realism due to the solidity and weight that they express whether nudes or landscapes. The power of this body of work is its ability to convey innocence and honesty within sincere and natural expression. Rachel was born with Down's Syndrome but this has never stood in the way of her formidable powers of self-expression and her command of imagery and colour. Her work stands on its own as a body of endless inventive imagination and skill. Heller has had several one-person exhibitions, her first at John Jones in Finsbury Park when she was only twenty two which attracted much enthusiasm and praise. Rachel studied at The Prince's Drawing School in Hoxton and has attended summer schools at Slade School of Art as well as completing a foundation course and a diploma at Byam Shaw. Rachel went on to be awarded the Hugh Casson Drawing Prize from the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2006.
Born in Hertfordshire in 1931, Richard Smith studied at the Royal College of Art, London from 1954-57.In 1959 Smith was awarded the prestigious Harkness Fellowship which facilitated his move to New York, where he has remained ever since. During this time, Smith was able to observe form and colour featured in the iconography and consumerism of the 1960s. Smith challenged the structural properties of stretching canvas, expanding the frames into three dimensional structures by building extensions. Smith produced these works on a large scale, alluding to the monumentality of the billboards that surround the landscape of America. During the 1970s and 1980s the canvas was taken off the usual wooden stretchers, with strings hung from the edges or tied in knots; these works were coined the 'kite' pieces and were no longer restricted to hanging rigid on the wall. Although now painting on a more conventional canvas, Smith's oeuvre remains as dynamic, colourful and expressionist to this day. "Each canvas has a past and a future; even the first and the last connect in an eternal return, if we think of their relationship as that of the crescent moon to the full moon which inevitably succeeds each waning crescent." - Barbara Rose, Richard Smith Seven Exhibitions 1961-75, Tate
Born in 1937, Phillips attended drawing classes and lectures on Renaissance iconography alongside his studies and theatre at Oxford. Phillips was taught by Frank Auerbach at Camberwell School of Art. Phillips's first one-man exhibition in London was in 1965 and he won a John Moores prize four years later. Since 1966, five editions, of Phillips' A Humument: A treated Victorian Novel, each with a number of pages reworked, have been published, and Phillips has said the series will only be complete when all pages of his original have themselves been revised. Phillips has received many commissions for site-specific artworks including tapestries for his old college in Oxford, sculpture for the Imperial War Museum, street mosaics for his native Peckham, and ornament and memorials for sacred spaces, including both Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Phillips's portrait subjects have included Samuel Beckett as well as friends such as Iris Murdoch, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Richard Morphet (keeper of the Tate modern collection until 1998) and the Monty Python team. In 1989, he became the second artist to have a retrospective of his portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. Fifteen years later, he also went on to curate We Are The People, at the Gallery, an exhibition of his large collection of postcard photographic portraits. Phillips received the Frances Williams Memorial Prize in 1983 for his illustration and new translation of Dante's Inferno. He also made a TV version of the Inferno with Peter Greenaway which won them jointly as directors the Italia prize.