Beautifully Mixed Up: British Painting Now

Arguably one of London’s biggest exhibitions this autumn is ‘Mixing It Up: Painting Today’ at the Hayward Gallery (until 12 December). Featuring over 30 mostly UK-based artists, the show showcases the salubrious diversity of painting happening right now.

There are many familiar names included such as Peter Doig, Allison Katz, Oscar Murillo, and Matthew Krishanu. A few other artists sharing the walls (Lubaina Himid, Merlin James, and Caragh Thuring) were also on the roster of the Hayward’s well-received ‘Slow Painting’ exhibition last year.

As a fitting compliment to the Hayward’s new exhibition catalogue, this season we have beautiful new monographs on the work of various British painters. From the large-scale abstract grandeur of Hoyland and Bowling; to the psychological intensity of Walker and Smith; then over to the poetic reflections on nature by Verity and Khan. For your pleasure, here’s what we recommend…


John Hoyland: The Last Paintings (Ridinghouse)

“Painting is acting purely; you can’t hide anything. You can’t pretend to be a tough guy if you’re not. Everything shows; it’s a seismograph of the mind and the body.”


Charlotte Verity: Echoing Green. The Printed Year (Ridinghouse)

“As I’m painting these twigs and stems, I feel at one with their direction without quite knowing where they will end up on the canvas. I paint with a sense of curiosity, which leaves the painting in a state of open-endedness.”


Frank Bowling: London / New York (Koenig Books)

“It all happens very much in an extempore way. I don’t have any pre-planned idea about how I’m going to make a painting.”


Caroline Walker: Women’s Work (mac Birmingham)

“There is definitely a strong sense of voyeurism in my work. I’m interested in challenging the position of the viewer, particularly in relation to my female subjects. And the paintings are very large, so there’s a sense that you could almost step into the scene.”


Idris Khan: The Seasons Turn (Victoria Miro)

“When I look at the works, I definitely think of blossom, and I think of moving in daffodils and bluebells – I have vivid memories of the bluebell forest starting to bloom. And I suppose there’s an element of reflecting on colours in nature.”


Anj Smith: A Willow Grows Aslant the Brook (New Art Gallery Walsall)

“I hadn’t realised how labyrinthine sexuality is. It really affects our psychology as well as our physicality. So the face becomes a device on which I hang all my investigations and concerns about our social ideas.”


Image credit: John Hoyland, detail (from the book, John Hoyland: The Last Paintings)
Posted on 7th September 2021
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