TONY BEVAN: EPISTROPHIES AND HEADS 23 November 2023 – 13 January 2024 Ben Brown Fine Arts 12 Brook’s Mews London W1K 4DG
Ben Brown Fine Arts presents Epistrophies and Heads, an exhibition of recent paintings by British artist Tony Bevan, at our London gallery. This will be Bevan’s twelfth exhibition with the gallery and marks the second part of our comprehensive exhibition, following the earlier works from this series on view at our Hong Kong gallery through September to November 2023. The exhibition showcases Bevan’s latest series, Epistrophies, in which the artist explores the rhythmic, abstract, infinite possibilities inspired by a singular motif, a tree, which he encountered near his home over many winters.
These works will be presented alongside Bevan’s Heads paintings, with which he has taken on a looser, more abstract approach as this series progresses. Exhibited together, the repetitive forms and complex structures of these works offer a meditation and myriad associations to the viewer, suggestive of the human form and its intricate internal, external and psychological systems.
The Heads paintings in the exhibition mark an emotive progression in this ongoing series, as Bevan takes on a looser and more abstracted approach to the subject matter. The demarcations of the face and skull become unrestrained, loops and marks just hinting at orifices, eyes and ears. In Head (PC212), 2021, a spherical head and linear, trunk-like neck lay solidly on a neutral background which is scattered in parts with gestures of orange pigment dust.
However, within the internal landscape of the unifying elemental structure, curves and bold angular marks are frantic; they are mere suggestions of features, leaving the viewer uncertain of the direction of gaze. Bevan has been exploring self-portraiture since the 1990s, taking inspiration from multitude traditions throughout art history, including the 18th century ‘Character Heads’ of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. He sees the head as the central core of humanity, thought and action, and self-portraiture as a form that gives freedom to go beyond surface appearance, to the liminal layer.
Bevan’s profound aesthetic is distinguished by his exclusive use of charcoal and self-produced acrylic paints in a typically restrained palette of black, grey, orange and red. His process is considered yet vigorous. In these refined paintings, composed of his distinctive pigment-rich sinuous forms, Bevan lays raw canvas or paper onto the floor of his studio, applying pure pigment and charcoal directly. The splinters and dust ofthe charcoal and powdery pigments are preserved on the surface of his works, resulting in a highly dynamic tactility and insight into his working method.
In Bevan’s persistent exploration of figurative and abstract representation, he infuses all his subjects – whether heads, architectural structures, trees or stones – with a powerful life force and intensity that transcend their original representation.
In Epistrophies and Heads, a singulartree or head is rendered to its fundamental architectural pathways, resulting in abstracted, energetic and emotive formations that encourage contemplation and interpretation as the direct relationship between Bevan’s subject matter becomes evident. Collectively, they convey a fascinating approach to the consideration of the mental space, exploring the pulsating energies and infinite rhythmic possibilities with astounding clarity.
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