TALKING WITH CLIVE HEAD
Clive Head, in his studio, discusses with his daughter, Rachel, the methodology of painting “To the Silence of Tiresias” as well as the use of colour and the ideas that inform this impressive new work.
Video credit: Oliver Payne
CLIVE HEAD BIO
Head was born in Maidstone, Kent, the son of a machine operator at Reed's Paper Mill. Head had a precocious talent in art and at the age of 11 attended Reeds Art Club, a social club organised at his father's factory. In 1983 he began studying for a degree in Fine Art at the Aberystwyth University under the tutorship of the abstract painter David Tinker.
In 1994 Head founded and became the Chair of the Fine Art Department at the University of York's Scarborough Campus where he again teamed up with Steve Whitehead and became friends with the art theorist Michael Paraskos and the artist Jason Brooks. During this period most of Head's work was in a neo-classical figurative style, and these were shown with Brooks at the Paton Gallery, London in 1995.
In 1999 Head gave up teaching and signed to Blains Fine Art (now Haunch of Venison Gallery) in London and Louis K. Meisel Fine Art in New York. In 2003 he joined Paraskos in taking part in the International Photorealist Project in Prague. The work produced was later exhibited in the United States. In 2005 he was commissioned by the Museum of London to produce a painting of Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II.
In 2005 he was debilitated by a neurological disease that had a devastating effect on his muscles, and it took another five years for him to be diagnosed and treated for Dopa-Responsive Dystonia. During this time, however, he continued painting and the scale of his work became larger.
His work shifted again in 2014 when the Artist moved away from spatial mathematics and focused on more intuitive art, reminiscent of his days as a student in the 1980s when he painted under the tutelage of abstract painter David Tinker. Heads paintings from this time to the present have, "evolved into an overt palimpsest of spaces and colliding time-frames."
Style and Philosophy
It has been said that Head has solved the question posed by the Cubists. Unlike a shattered Cubist image, however, Head uses a realist language of painting. But Head's realism has little in common with photorealism or photography. Instead, he aims to create a new form of realist painting for the twenty-first century.
The Artist's use of perspective is not bound by pre-determined rules; there is no pre-determined vanishing point where all the lines of perspective meet, but what Head calls 'vanishing zones'. He has also stated he 'rejects the Modernist fragmentation and seeks a seamless surface.'
Head's subject matter tends towards cityscapes, particularly London, although he has also painted New York, Moscow, Los Angeles, Prague, Rome and Paris, amongst other places.