Annie Kevans

Annie Kevans was born in in 1972, in Cannes, France. Kevans attended Central Saint Martins University and gained a BA(Hons) in Fine Art in 2004. Kevans is an English painter who focuses on painting portraits which often explore controversial topics and alternative histories. Some of Kevans’ work includes a series of portraits named ‘All the President’s Girls’ which depicts Presidential mistresses, following on from this Kevans painted a series on the illegitimate slave children of Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Tyler. Kevans’ work highlights and challenges gender inequalities, racial conflict, the horror of slavery, and the injustice and hypocrisy perpetrated by key figures in society. For the purpose of this blog post I have looked at Kevans work on ‘The History of Art’ where she has showcased the many successful female artists who have often been marginalised due to their gender in the art world, and which continues to be a theme of inequality in the modern day art arena.

To showcase female artists is very important to me as we are still very much so marginalised in the art world, and I wanted to use this as an opportunity to celebrate some female artist who I admire. Two artist whose work I have seen in person and was particularly moved and intrigued by is that of Hilma AF Klint and Yayoi Kusama, born in different centuries and countries, but both have a shared passion for creating abstract art work which pushes boundaries and provokes reaction.

Hilma af Klint, ca. 1910. (Courtesy of the Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm/Courtesy The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm)

Hilma Af Klint was born in 1862, and was a Swedish artist. Her abstracts work although unappreciated at the time of production have now become widely known as some of the the first examples of abstract painting in the western art world. Many of her works predate the well known purely abstract compositions by Kandinsky. Klint was one of the first generations of women to receive a higher education at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. Klint was interested in spirituality, alternative dimensions, and often used various dualistic symbols in her work. I was lucky enough to visit the Guggenheim in New York, and attended an exhibition showing many of her wonderful works, to imagine her work being exhibited in the early 1900’s is almost hard to believe, she was such a pioneer of her time, yet sadly and very often overshadowed by the many male artists of the abstract movement, such as Kandinsky, Mondrian or Kupka, to name a few.

Yayoi Kusama was born in 1929, and is a Japanese Artist. Another artist ahead of her time, Kusama paved the way in the 1950’s with her ‘Infinity Net’ Paintings which were made up of thousands of tiny monochromatic dots on canvas, she’s also known as ‘The Princess of Polka Dots’. Kusama’s work has spanned over several different mediums, including painting, installation, fashion and performance art. Kusama’s work is heavily influenced by an early childhood experience, in which she had a hallucination where she was surrounded by flowers which started talking to her. Kusama moved to New York in the 1950’s and became widely popular in her work, by the 1970’s sadly Kusama suffered a mental breakdown and returned to Japan, she has been living in a mental hospital by choice ever since. Kusama continues to produce amazing works, and works from her studio close by to where she lives. I was lucky enough to experience first hand some of Kusama’s work when I visited Naoshima – commonly known as Japan’s Art Island. There I was able to see examples of Kusama’s giant polka dot pumpkins!

Here is my response to the works of Anie Kevans, paying homage to some of my favourite artists, Hilma AF Klint, and Yayoi Kusama, I’m pleased with the final outcome. I used acrylic paint with an acrylic binder, in a similar way to using oil paint with a thinning agent, but the drying time is far quicker. There is a lucidity in the paintings which I also see in Kevans work. My favourite is the painting of Kusama due to her bright and bold hair colour and clothing, and she has a really strikingly beautiful face which was really fun to paint.

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