Clive Head British, b. 1965
Head's starting point for any painting is to stand in a specific location, such as the entrance to a London Underground station or a coffee shop, where he will gather information by sketching, photographing or simply experiencing the scene. The end point, however, is never to recreate an image of that location, but to use that information and experience to invent an artificial world that convinces the viewer of its own independent reality. This sets up a complex relationship in Head's paintings, between their resemblance to somewhere we might know, like a London street, and Head's insistence that we are in fact looking through a framed 'window' at another reality.
Stylistically Head is almost unique in contemporary British art in the way he has developed a highly personal language of art that is focused very specifically on painting. Arguably this makes him one of the leading British painters of his generation as most of his contemporaries have chosen to explore other art forms and materials.
Very early on Head developed a realist style of painting, often mistaken for Photorealism, but his most recent work has moved firmly away from this. In part this is a consequence of an increasing interest in recent years in the work of modernist painters such as Henri Matisse and Georges Braque, but it also stems from a natural evolution of his basic painting process. Even when producing ostensibly realist paintings Head always maintained that his work was not concerned with the visual appearance of the world, but with the full sensual experience of being in a particular place over a period of time. In recent work this has led to overtly composite or layered images, in which time and movement play a more significant role than the creation of something that can be mistaken for a photographic snap shot.
In this, Head's connection to the New Aesthetics seems significant as the New Aesthetics is a deliberate attempt to reinvent the concept of the avant-garde based on the sensual engagement with reality and the physical engagement with the materials of art, such as paint.