What Is A Head? The Connections and Impulses
Widewalls: The comparison between your and the work of Frank Auerbach seems fitting as you both have interrogated the psyche through the portrait. What made you turn to this particular genre?
Tony Bevan: Well, I've been painting and drawing heads for as long as I can remember and in particular self-portraits. The self-portrait gives me the freedom to go beyond the surface appearance to the liminal layer.
I think of the self-portraits as internal landscapes.
Widewalls: Although at first glance expressionistic, your visual vocabulary evokes a rather dystopian association. Has your work been infused by such literature or is it just a reaction to the rise of neoliberalism and the rule of Margaret Thatcher back inthe 1980s?
TB: I suppose it was a reaction to neoliberalism: Margaret Thatcher stoked the fires and famously said "there's no such thing as society." Needing low rent, I've always had studios in rundown parts of London. The paintings and drawings around the '80s and '90s were confrontational while exposing a vulnerable area of the body. The paintings have titles such as Exposed Arm or Self Portrait Neck.