Head and Neck, 2007
Tony Bevan RA (b. 1951)
RA Collection: Art
In 2011 an exhibition of Tony Bevan’s self-portraits was held at the National Portrait Gallery, in the catalogue to which curator Paul Moorhouse wrote that ‘for over thirty years Tony Bevan has knowingly made the exploration of his own presence the subject of his art. Working in the isolation of the studio, his physical appearance—glimpsed in a mirror or captured in photography—has been a primary source, forming the basis of drawings and then paintings deriving from the process of drawing’.
During this period Bevan has assimilated various influences (chief among them the ‘character heads’ of Franz Xavier Messerschmindt) and inflected his representations of the head in different ways. In a text written for Bevan’s 2006 exhibition at Ben Brown Fine Arts Richard Dyer wrote of how ‘over the years Bevan has gradually isolated the head from the body’ and that in some of Bevan’s more recent works ‘the head has become completely flattened, resembling more a two dimensional map, rendered as if the skin had been removed from the skull beneath and laid out like a flattened cartography of the physiognomy, an uncannily floating écorché.’ This description of the head as map certainly applies to Head and Neck, particularly the straight diagonal line extending from the neck across the head. The face, tilted backwards, the eyes looking down, seems to regard us with disdain, while the head and neck emerge from a torso which here assumes the characteristics of a horizon. In many of Bevan’s portraits the neck is absent but here it, and its relation to the lower part of the painting, is integral.
This painting was shown in 'Tony Bevan: New Paintings' at his gallery, Ben Brown Fine Arts, in 2008. The painting was loaned to the exhibition by the Royal Academy, which by this time had already accepted it as Bevan’s Diploma Work, following his election as an RA in 2007.
906 mm x 741 mm x 25 mm
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