Hugh Mendes is recognised for finely rendered obituary paintings that operate simultaneously as portrait and still life. This obsessive project, ongoing for over ten years, evolved originally from making still life paintings of newspaper cuttings. Considering still life's metaphorical function within the history of Western art from 16th century Netherlandish painting onwards, adopting the obituary as a singular subject enabled Mendes to embrace and affirm the inherent meaning of memento mori: remember death.
In this series Mendes continues from his 2016 exhibition 'The Death of the Artist', which represented a shift from painting various notable figures whose life and work resonated with Mendes, to recently deceased artists only. Significantly, in this exhibition Mendes turns backwards to paint heroic artists from throughout the centuries, all of whom have expressly impacted upon him and his practice. And in using their own self-portraits as source material, Mendes has been able to engage profoundly with the artists' intentions.
Indeed, this process has facilitated a meditation on and enabled a conversation with the titans of art history: Picasso, Matisse, van Gogh, Cézanne, El Greco, Vermeer, Rembrandt and Goya all feature. During the making of each of these paintings, Mendes has engaged profoundly with the personality of the artist, investing in and befriending them. He will talk with fondness of the characteristics of every subject, as well as the challenge of integrating their techniques with his own. Each painting, therefore, is activated differently, and represents an audacious synthesis of contemporary and historical painting.
The event will take place at CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, 336 Old Street, Shoreditch, London EC1V 9DR. Open from 11am-6pm Wednesday to Saturday. Please contact the gallery for further information on 020 7739 4055. Follow the gallery @CHARLIESMITHldn.
Category: Arts | Visual Arts | Galleries / Art.
Artist / Speaker: Hugh Mendes.