Ben Brown Fine Arts is proud to present Epistrophes and Heads「格木致知」, an exhibition of recent paintings by British artist Tony Bevan, at the Hong Kong gallery. This will mark the artist’s eleventh show with Ben Brown Fine Arts and fifth show at the Hong Kong gallery. The exhibition introduces Bevan’s latest series, Epistrophes, in which the artist explores the rhythmic, abstract, infinite possibilities inspired by a singular tree which he encountered near his home over many winters. The Epistrophes works will be presented alongside Bevan’s iconic Heads paintings, with which he has similarly taken on a looser, more abstracted approach as this series progresses. Exhibited together, the repetitive forms and complex structures of these works offer a meditation and myriad associations to the viewer, suggestive of the human form and its intricate internal, external and psychological systems.
Bevan's aesthetic can be distinguished by his exclusive use of charcoal and self-produced acrylic paints in a typically restrained palette of black, ochre and red. Bevan vigorously applies his pure acrylic pigments and charcoal directly onto raw canvas or paper laid down on the floor of his studio, preserving the splinters and dust of the charcoal and powdery pigments on the surface of his works, resulting in a dynamic tactility and insight into his working method. Bevan infuses all of his subjects – whether heads, architectural structures, trees or stones – with a life force and intensity that transcend their original representation.
The Epistrophes series focuses on the anthropomorphic, expressive and wildly rhythmic qualities of a bare tree Bevan assiduously observed over many seasons near his home, returning to his studio to work from memory, transmuting the emotions and impressions imparted by the tree into endless iterations. In Epistrophy Red Orange (PC2215), 2022, a vermillion tree seemingly arches back, splaying its elegant spindly branches in a fan-like pattern, the densely painted textural tree hovering on a background of powdery, diffused pigment. Seen collectively, the trees pulsate with life, ‘epistrophy’ not only referring to the literary and rhetorical effects of repetition, but also referencing the groundbreaking jazz standard of the same name composed in the 1940s by Thelonious Monk.
The Heads paintings mark a new direction in this ongoing series, as the lines and demarcations of the face and skull become unrestrained and more abstract, the loops and marks just hinting at orifices, eyes and ears. Head (PC218), 2021, depicts a disembodied, floating head resting on its side, a circular form at its center creating a portal into this enigmatic object. Bevan has been exploring self-portraiture since the 1990s, taking inspiration from multitude traditions throughout art history, including the 18th century ‘Character Heads’ of Franz Xavier Messerschmidt, and sees the head as the central core of humanity, thought and action.