Oil on canvas, 81cm x 81cm, 2018, unframed
When talking about revisiting Tommy Cooper as a source of inspiration in a recent interview with The Dulwich Festival Tony Beaver said, “I want the paintings to be about a way of being a man, that is unusual and admirable, and to do with not-obvious qualities. The paintings of Tommy Cooper came out of the fact that he died on stage. I find that a very rich, full of meaning moment that Tommy Cooper did the most serious thing that you could possibly do, in front of an audience of millions. The paintings imagine the moment just after he has gone to the other side. I want them to look as though he’s emptying. He’s like an astronaut going into the after-life, exploring on behalf of us all. Because he was so loved, he can take people with him”
Tony Beaver began his painting career with a remarkable series of Potato Portraits. The humble potato, in Tony’s hands, looms out of the dark, like a planet in Space. Each potato is like a little portrait, each with its own personality presented in a style reminiscent of the Dutch Masters with the chiaroscuro qualities of Caravaggio. Painting potatoes is a practice Tony still returns to, a subject that still sustains and inspires after twenty years of the closest scrutiny.
Free-floating, beyond the reach of words, Tony’s paintings materialise profound sensations of ‘the real’ which touch on death, loss and longing but feel ultimately life-affirming.
A consistent theme in Tony’s work is his exploration of forgotten treasures. His subjects, be they dusty old museum exhibits, deceased family pets or national treasures are all liberated from their histories and memorials and coaxed into a new life through Tony’s tender portraits.
There is the mysterious sense that all of these subjects and objects, once tangible and touched, lost and found, are reborn, freshly tactile with hints of a magical pulse.
Read more about Tony Beaver, his background, awards and previous exhibitions