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Humphrey Ocean RA, Home

Home, 2007

Humphrey Ocean RA (b. 1951)

RA Collection: Art

Alongside the portraiture which has always formed an important part of his practice, Humphrey Ocean has long chronicled the landscape in and around south-east London, where he lives and works. In 1997-8 he took part in the exhibition 'urbasuburba' alongside another Academician, Jock McFadyen, which highlighted the landscape element of both artists’ work. <i>Home</i>, a night-time view of a detached house which sits squarely in the centre of the image, makes us wonder: does this house belong to the artist?

On one hand it would be reasonable to suppose this to be the case: the emotive title ‘home’ rather than the more descriptive ‘house’ suggests a personal connection, while Ocean has acknowledged the importance of the area in which he lives and works: ‘I use the colour of south London, where I live. There is no place like where you understand the shapes of the cars, the cut of the clothes and the humour, home in other words’. This is evident from works such as his <i>SE22</i> suite (1995), named after the postcode associated with the south London neighbourhood of East Dulwich.

But equally Ocean might be saying that this is not his home but that is nonetheless home to somebody. The painting may not even be a depiction of a specific house but instead an imagined idea of a generic or ideal house. Like his fellow Academician Michael Craig-Martin, Ocean has produced many depictions of man-made objects—furniture, stationery, buildings—with no suggestion of any direct personal connection. The artist recently said that ‘what interests me most is how we have made the world in our image’, and the cool depiction of the things we make for ourselves is a way for Ocean to explore this.

Object details

Object type
Copyright owner
Oil on canvas

730 mm x 920 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by Humphrey Ocean RA accepted 4 March 2008
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