Then and Now: Bevan, Johnson, O'Donoghue
James Hyman Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of works on paper by Tony Bevan, Glenys Johnson and Hughie O'Donoghue.
Entitled Then and Now, the exhibition contrasts new works completed in the last few months, with major earlier pieces to emphasise the centrality of working on paper to these artists' practice and their evolving approach to the medium.
Demonstrating radical and vastly different approaches to working on paper, each artist shares an engagement with the world around them informed by rigorously formal concerns in which there is an oscillation between the figurative and the abstract, a sense of absence as well as presence. In each case, too, the artist's use of materials moves far beyond the traditional realms of pencil on paper, combining media and even incorporating photographs or photographic devices.
Tony Bevan's latest prints and drawings and paintings on paper have an imposing presence but also dematerialise the object. The subjects are both taut and solid and linear and transparent. The effect is that whilst volume is conveyed, there is also a sense that the subject, whether it be a head or a table-top, has been stripped down to its skeletal, structural essentials. In contrast Bevan's early works often possess a powerful bodily physicality suggesting a subject that is felt as well as seen, in which touch is as important as sight. The abstraction of Bevan's recent pictures contrasts with the directness of the preceding works encapsulated by one of his largest paintings on paper, The Meeting, in which a crowd of men confront us.
Glenys Johnsons's new paintings and drawings on paper show the city as a place of constant flux. Areas of high resolution combine with dissolution as each image appears to endlessly appear and disappear before our eyes. Buildings rise and fall, the
city grows and falls, yet it is the action of light and shadow that the artist also addresses. Whether depicting the city, or people as in a major earlier series of female portrait heads, the artist's actions on the paper, from delicate to assertive, expansive to detailed, provide an equivalence to our ways of seeing. Our gaze is constantly on the move as we engage with the subject. There is no single point of interest, no single area of resolution, no static viewpoint as we gaze across, down, up and along.
Hughie O'Donoghue's latest pictures see him return once more to working on paper. Smaller and more technically complex than his earlier charcoal drawings, these new works mirror the techniques used in his paintings. They have the characteristic layering process of the paintings and employ a variety of media - ink, water based paints, emulsion, white lead, graphite etc. In the 1980s O'Donoghue was well known for his large scale charcoal drawings, such as the magisterial Aqueduct (1987), which were integral to his practice as an artist. Since then he has continued drawing but on a smaller more intimate scale particularly in his note books, while also making groups of multi-media drawings for exhibition. In this exhibition O'Donoghue contrasts a group of new pictures with important works of the 1980s and 1990s.