Artist biography

English painter and draughtsman. He originally trained as a sculptor, graduating from Cardiff College of Art in 1983, but from 1985 devoted himself to painting. In 1987 he returned to London. His paintings at this time originated as views across the urban landscape, yet through a prolonged process of abstraction resulted in a far more ambiguous image. His later work remained formally consistent but became increasingly refined in conception and execution. Large canvases in a muted palette, registering subtle changes and with direct reference to source imagery kept obscure, typified his production of the 1990s. Frank about the romantic intentions governing his work, Callery made paintings that demand contemplation: detailed variation in surface area is as important as the overall composition. His paintings are often densely worked, but with the paint thinly applied; the surface consists of numerous finely made vertical and horizontal lines of paint, charcoal and chalk.

In 1991 Callery organised his first one-person exhibition in a converted warehouse. His work was soon being shown alongside that of other Young British Artists although his work could be seen as more traditional than that of many artists of his generation. Although painting remained at the centre of his art, in 1997, in collaboration with photographer Alan Watson, Callery explored similar themes in a large-scale photographic piece documenting in detail the surface of an archaeological dig supervised jointly by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Bibliography
P. Bonaventura: ‘Spotlight: Simon Callery', Mod. Painters (Spring 1993)
Simon Callery: Paintings 1995–96 (exh. cat. by C. Bucklow, London, Anthony Wilkinson Gal., 1996)

ANDREW CROSS
10 December 2000

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