Clive Head studio visit

Posted on Wednesday 14th August 2013

'Thinking about Georges Braque'

The art world doesn't know how to categorise Clive Head so he's classified as a 'photorealist'. True, his paintings resemble photographs and when pictured in catalogues they appear as nothing less than convincing photographs of real, living places. But that's not what they are. And Clive Head, although a realist painter, has little in common with photorealism. And that was the illuminating thrust I picked up from Leeds Art Fund's trip to his studio near Filey.

On the journey we'd seen images of Clive's work from his recent exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery - images in and around Victoria Underground Station. It's easy to imagine admirers of these works visiting the entrances and arcades depicted and expecting to walk into the intricately observed locations of the paintings... and being surprised not to find them! And that's because they don't exist.

Clive Head told us that he visits and revisits the locations to sketch, photograph, take notes and experience the scene. All that information, some of it astonishlingly detailed, is then ciphered to invent an artificial world that convinces the viewer of its own independent reality. Clive described this as more like recording a human body wandering around a location, moving through time and space, rather than creating a static snapshot of part of it.

Following his series of interior/exterior scenes around Victoria Underground Station, Clive has now moved to a series of paintings of cafe ineriors at the same location. We saw Thinking about Georges Braque which was at a well-advanced stage and another vast cafe interior was at a pencil on canvas stage in another room.

It was special to get up close to a partially finished major work as well as hearing the inside story of how it was created. Most rewarding was to sense the determined restlessness not to emulate the realist art of the past but to create a new form of realist painting for the twenty-first century.