Tony Bevan (b. 1951)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SCANDINAVIAN COLLECTION
Tony Bevan (b. 1951)


Tony Bevan (b. 1951)
signed twice, numbered and dated 'Bevan PC9710' (on the reverse)
acrylic and charcoal on canvas
105¾ x 82in. (268.5 x 208.3cm.)
Executed in 1997
Michael Hue-Williams Fine Art, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1998.
R. Cork, Tony Bevan Paintings and Drawings, London 2000, no. 1 (illustrated in colour, pp. 55 and 61).
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Lot Essay

‘Fragmentary, fragile, precarious and at once open and closed [the Corridors] act as conduits from one state to another. Like the mythological tunnel of light, reported by those who have experienced “near death” episodes, they act metaphorically as active visual tropes for the possibility of shifting into different perceptual modalities’

‘Your corridor is pinned to the wall above my working table’

A monumental vision spanning nearly three metres in height, Corridor is an immersive example of Tony Bevan’s expressive, psychologically-charged painterly language. Combining deep pink acrylic with smudged bars of charcoal, the work’s sharp perspectival sweep draws the eye to the dark vanishing point that lies at the end of the tunnel. Painted in 1997, the work stems from the landmark series of Corridors that occupied Bevan’s practice for much of the decade. Frequently compared to the work of artists such as Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, and deeply influenced by the eighteenth-century German sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, Bevan was fascinated by the relationship between physical reality and the metaphysical pulsations of the psyche. Along with his celebrated series of portrait heads, the Corridors formed a key part of this investigation. Caught between figurative and abstract registers, the empty, receding passageway visually dramatizes the sensation of journeying from exterior to interior domains. ‘The corridor as a symbol of transition between different realms is deeply embedded in our collective unconscious’, writes Richard Dyer, citing scenes from both Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Ken Russell’s Altered States (1980). ‘… Bevan’s corridors function in a similar manner but within the arena of painting rather than that of film and narrative. Fragmentary, fragile, precarious and at once open and closed they act as conduits from one state to another. Like the mythological tunnel of light, reported by those who have experienced “near death” episodes, they act metaphorically as active visual tropes for the possibility of shifting into different perceptual modalities … the viewer enters a psycho-physical space in which the painting acts as a semi-permeable membrane, a “leaky” diaphragm between the physical fact of the universe and the possibility of dreaming while awake’ (R. Dyer, ‘Transitive Transduction: Breaching the Integument in the Work of Tony Bevan’, in Tony Bevan, exh. cat., Ben Brown Fine Arts, London, 2006, pp. 5-6).

Bevan’s Corridors draw together a wide variety of visual stimuli. As Richard Cork recalls, the artist was particularly impressed by the dramatic sense of perspective created by the barrel-vaulted ceiling in Tintoretto’s The Finding of the Body of St Mark (1542). At the same time, however, the works quiver with the Zeitgeist of 1980s London, recalling the ageing architecture that surrounded Bevan’s south-east city studio. ‘The Corridor series that absorbed so much of his energy during the mid-1990s originated in a fleeting encounter with a dismal block of council flats’, explains Cork. ‘One look through an open window was sufficient to trigger an obsession with the narrow, claustrophobic space he saw stretching away inside’ (R. Cork, ‘In Extremis: Bevan and the Western Tradition’, in M. Hue- Williams, Tony Bevan: Paintings and Drawings, London 2000, p. 28). Devoid of figures, the works take on an almost anthropomorphic quality, imbued with lingering traces of bodily presence. ‘Some suggest the generic corridors of hospitals and high-rise blocks, others the specific example of Van Gogh’s asylum in Saint-Remy and Antonin Artaud’s psychiatric hospitals at Ville-Evard and Rodez’, writes James Hyman. ‘At times they suggest psychological disturbance but they also possess an extraordinary corporeality: these are corridors of flesh’ (J. Hyman, http:// tony-bevan-corridors-of-flesh [accessed 26 August 2017]). Ultimately, perhaps – as Marco Livingstone suggests – these works function as metaphors for the artist’s dialogue with himself in the confined space of the studio (M. Livingstone, ‘The Spirit beneath the Skin’, in M. Hue-Williams, Tony Bevan, London and LA 1998, pp. 10-11). The corridor, in this reading, embodies the transitory state between imagination and physical engagement that defines the very act of art-making.

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