Tony Bevan

ICA - Institute of Contemporary Arts, London

Tony Bevan is a figure painter. Rather than portraits, though, his figures are amalgams of images and incidents that he has seen. Their strength lies in the fact that they are not social or physical “types” but recognizable individuals for whom the lineaments of psychological and cultural patternings are a reality. Bevan works by applying pigment directly onto the canvas without first mixing it into paint, a technique that gives his color the appearance of a kind of crust lying over the figure. In Tender Possessions, 1986, for example, a bag lady sits staring out at the viewer. The strong black lines with which she is drawn are emphasized around her eyes, as if she were decorated with punkish war paint. In her clasped hands she is holding a handkerchief, lighter, cigarette packet, and cigarette, objects that, though trivial, seem too important to relinquish hold of for a moment. The only

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