Artist biography

English painter. He studied at the Bradford School of Art (1968–71) and then in London at Goldsmiths College (1971–4) and the Slade School of Fine Art (1974–6). In his early work he painted single figures in a manner that suggested extreme psychological states. His use of charcoal and intensely chromatic acrylic paint, which he makes himself, give his painting a distinctively rich, scorched appearance. Bevan developed his psychological portraiture throughout the 1980s and 90s, often working in series on individual subjects. The social psychology of his work became more explicit in The Meeting (2.94×2.85 m, 1992; see 1993 exh. cat.), a painting of nine male figures (distributed over six canvases) singing in a mechanical, disconnected fashion. The underlying existentialism of this work recalls the paintings of Francis Bacon, Bevan's obsession with open mouths providing another point of comparison. The tense frontal aspects also bring to mind the Expressionistic portraiture of Edvard Munch. Toward the end of the 1990s Bevan stripped his images to a bare minimum, producing a disturbing series of paintings in which disembodied heads float like scarred, trussed balloons. The rawness and directness of these works reveals the influence of Philip Guston, who evoked a similar sense of alienation and embittered survival. From the mid 1990s Bevan also worked on architectural themes, expressing similar states of desolation. Rafters (2000; see 2000 exh. cat.), taken from an unidentified location in south-east London, again uses thick charcoal and heavily pigmented paint to capture extreme psychological states.

Tony Bevan: Paintings 1980–87 (exh. cat., essay M. Cullingworth, London, ICA, 1987)
The Meeting: Tony Bevan (exh. cat., essay P. Wollen, London, Whitechapel A.G., 1993)
Tony Bevan (exh. cat., essay M. Livingstone, London, Michael Hue-Williams F.A., 1998)
Tony Bevan, Paintings and Drawings (exh. cat., essay R. Cork, London, Michael Hue-Williams F.A., 2000)

10 December 2000

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