Tony Bevan b. 1951


Michael Hue-Williams, London

Private Collection, UK


Kosme de Baranano, Jon Bird, Marco Livingstone, Klaus Ottmann and Jonathan Sinclair-Wilson, Tony Bevan, Lund Humphries, Aldershot, 2006, closely related painting illus colour p157


Tony Bevan’s paintings of architectural interiors from this date typically comprise a single, vivid colour - red, orange, cobalt blue or violet, (as here) - on an unprimed ground. The vast scale of these paintings necessitates that Bevan work directly on the floor. Fragments of charcoal and smears from where he has knelt and moved over the canvas remain on the surface, lending a visceral quality to the paintings. He comments:

'I need that contact, to be physically close to them .... I can't feel over-awed by them when they are on the ground .... I also need the gravity if I'm trying to build up the thickness' 1

Bevan's interiors do not necessarily describe a specific place, they are more a confabulation of spaces, remembered and imagined. His Deptford studio is in an area once known for its thriving docklands, a function that has now fallen away. The glass structure and saw-tooth roof seen in Violet Interior seem to reference the disused industrial buildings that surround the studio. Postcards depicting tunnels, cathedrals and ancient sites are pinned to Bevan’s studio walls, informing the work. He has also suggested that some of his paintings might relate to a Dutch barn he visited as a child. In conversation with Richard Cork, Bevan explains another painting, Red Interior, 1999, as...'not a house, or a space, but a place beyond - an area difficult to quantify, almost like the jungle in Conrad' 2

Klaus Ottmann describes Bevan's portrait heads as 'exposed structural portraits’, and in Violet Interior Bevan treats architecture in the same way by presenting the skeletal structure of the building. Bevan's figure paintings are psychologically charged and, by extension, his paintings of dark corridors, weighty ceilings and cavernous chambers are less portraits of places than manifestations of (his own) psychological state. His interiors suggest feelings of containment, isolation, physical pressure, perceptual distortion and release. By working repeatedly within a small range of architectural motifs, Bevan has developed a parallel body of work as powerfully expressive as his portraits.

Note: Violet Interior has the artist’s code PC 0311. This denotes a 'Painting on Canvas', completed in 2003 and that is the 11th painting completed in this year.

1 Richard Cork, Tony Bevan, Paintings and Drawings, Michael Hue Williams, London, 2000, p21

2 Richard Cork, p6, and also, Kosme de Barañano, Klaus Ottmann, Jonathan Sinclair-Wilson and Marco Livingstone, Foreword by Jon Bird, Tony Bevan, Lund Humphries, London, 2005, p51