Ben Brown Fine Arts, London, has announced the exhibition Frank Auerbach / Tony Bevan: What Is A Head? featuring portraits by two of Britain’s leading figurative painters, curated by Michael Peppiatt.
The concept for this show is based on the exhibition organised by Michael in 1998 at the Musée Maillol in Paris under the title L’Ecole de Londres de Bacon à Bevan, which traced the influence of Bacon, Freud, Auerbach and Kossoff on the younger generation of figurative artists working in London.
A generation apart, Bevan and Auerbach share a fascination for the conceptual and painterly possibilities of reinventing heads. For both artists, the head is the centre that controls everything we do, its mysterious significance laying in its endless sparring of juxtaposed natures: impulse and restraint, instinct and order, spontaneity and discipline. It is rife with contradiction and yet to both remains the prime vessel of human life.
But there is as much to differentiate them as to bring them together. In Auerbach, who grew up during the war, between layers of excavation we see the buried image rising through the paint to resume its fragmented presence. Bevan’s ‘Heads’ are also reconstructions, though more linear than painterly, approached through its working parts, its muscles and sinews. While Auerbach’s heads conjure up struggle, exhaustion, a fire burnt forever into the thick layers of paint, Bevan’s explore its inner structure as an unknown space, an experimental architecture. The differences and similarities inherent in the same subject set up a dialogue not only between generations but within the way we view painting, as an ever-evolving insight into the human consciousness.
Frank Auerbach / Tony Bevan: What Is A Head? curated by Michael Peppiatt 7th December 2020 – 26th February 2021 at Ben Brown Fine Art
About the Artists
Frank Auerbach (b. 1931) was born in Berlin to Jewish parents and sent to England in 1939 to escape Nazism. He attended St Martins School of Art in London from 1948 to 1952 and took night classes at Borough Polytechnic. Auerbach went on to study at the Royal College of Art in London from 1952 to 1955. In 1978, he was given an Arts he was given an Arts Council retrospective at the Hayward Gallery in London. Solo exhibitions have also taken place at the British Pavilion at the 1986 Venice Biennale and at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, in 1989. Auerbach’s work has been exhibited at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut; Kunstverein, Hamburg; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofi?a, Madrid; the National Gallery, London; the Royal Academy of Arts, London; and the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, among other institutions. His works are included in numerous major public collections. Auerbach himself rarely leaves Britain and has lived and worked in the same London studio since the 1950s.
Tony Bevan (b. 1951) studied at the Bradford School of Art in Bradford, England (1968-71), followed by Goldsmiths College (1971-74) and the Slade School of Fine Art (1974-76), both in London. Bevan has exhibited internationally since 1976, holding his first US solo exhibitions at Ronald Feldman Gallery in 1988 and L.A. Louver gallery in 1989. Bevan has exhibited at prominent institutions around the world, with solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. In 2005, a major retrospective of Bevan’s work was held at the Institut Valencia? d’Art Modern, Valencia, Spain. In 2007, Bevan was elected a Royal Academician at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. His work is included in many prominent private and public collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and National Portrait Gallery and Tate, both in London.
About Michael Peppiatt.
Michael Peppiatt is an internationally respected expert on 20th-century art. As a critic, he has held positions at major publications including Le Monde (arts and literary editor), the New York Times (critic), the Financial Times (critic), Artnews (Paris Correspondent) and Art International (Senior Editor 1978-84). Michael’s book “Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma” (London, 1996; New York, 1997) was serialised in the Times and chosen as Book of the Year by the “New York Times”. Translated into several languages (Spanish, German, French, Japanese), it is considered the definitive account of Bacon’s life and work. Michael’s best-selling memoirs, ‘Francis Bacon in Your Blood’ (2015) and ’The Existential Englishman’ (2019) were both published by Bloomsbury, and his publication ‘The Making of Modern Art’ was brought out by Yale published in 2020. ‘Francis Bacon: Studies for a Portrait’, will be published by Thames and Hudson in January 2021.
Michael has curated numerous exhibitions, notably retrospectives of Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti, as well as exhibitions of the “School of London” in cities across Europe. In 2001 he curated an important travelling show of Giacometti and published “Alberto Giacometti in Postwar Paris” (London & New Haven, 2002). More recently, Peppiatt has organised a show of rarely seen sculptures, paintings and drawings by Giacometti in New York and brought out an accompanying monograph, “In Giacometti’s Studio” (Yale University Press), which then travelled to the Museum of Modern Art in Gallarate, Italy.