Timothy Hyman RA is a portraitist, but is probably best known for his narrative renditions of London. Drawing inspiration from the likes of painters Max Beckmann and Pierre Bonnard, he explores his personal relationship, both real and mythological, with the city where he lives and works. He employs vivid colours, shifting scale and perspectives to create visionary works.
In 2011, Hyman took up an artist’s residency at Maggie’s Centre in south west London, a support centre for people with cancer. For one day each week, Hyman would create poignant and characterful drawings of the centre’s residents. These drawings form the Academicians in Focus: Timothy Hyman RA, and will be on show in the Belle Shenkman Room of the Keeper’s House until 22 October.
What are you working on at the moment?
As always, I’m working in two studios, one in Angel and one in Haggerston. I’ve found that I can’t work consecutively for very long on just on one picture and so at any one time I might be working on up to 20 pictures across the two studios, some of them going back five years or more.
My Haggerston studio has slightly bigger walls and so the larger pictures tend to be there. But I’m also a bit split between real-life painting, based on drawing and observation, and another kind of painting, which has more to do with the future. It’s a kind of emblematic imagery. For example, I’m currently working on a big picture about Saturn and melancholy.
My residency at Maggie’s, the focus of my exhibition at the RA, began in December 2011 and I drew there one day each week throughout 2012, as well as drawing at some of the Centres in Scotland (designed by Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid RA and Frank Gehry Hon RA). But the paintings have a longer gestation; a few of them will appear in the exhibition.
What is your earliest memory of art?
As a child I commiserated with my brothers, because they didn’t know what they wanted to be, but I did. Even before I could read, I tremendously enjoyed working with gouache on coloured paper. I had an imaginary figure I would paint: a drunken sailor in navy uniform. He was a stereotype as I always dealt in characters. My first school report read “much too wedded to the grotesque".
I was a child artist and I think I really peaked at the age of 11, as I still have an affinity with those paintings.