Mendes and the Modernists

1 Jun-30 Jun 2023

Austin / Desmond Fine Art
London WC1B 3BN


We are delighted to announce an exhibition of portraits of British modernist artists by the painter Hugh Mendes. The portraits, which are based on newspaper obituaries, will be displayed alongside an original work by the artists portrayed.

For Hugh, the portraits have been central to his work for the last twenty years and are a personal dialogue between him and the absent sitter, engaging with their personalities and differing art practices. “I sometimes feel as if it is a very lengthy collaboration with so many of my great heroes and mentors from the history of art, especially of painting”. His studio is an ever evolving cacophony of voices and influences. The paintings, which depict a newspaper cutting with the obituary portrait, draw on the culture of mass media whilst their presentation as a tromp l’oeil references the memento mori in the still lifes of 17th century Dutch painting, reminding us of our mortality.

This group of British artists’ portraits has a personal significance for Hugh who initially trained at the Chelsea School of Art in the late 1970s, an institution to which a number of these artists were connected both as tutors and students. The portraits themselves are an act of remembrance to this group of influential artists.

Portraits of and works by: Eileen Agar, Gillian Ayres, David Bomberg, Anthony Caro, Patrick Caulfield, Prunella Clough, Alan Davie, Robyn Denny, Terry Frost, Richard Hamilton, Roger Hilton, Howard Hodgkin, Margaret Mellis, Paula Rego, Graham Sutherland, Euan Uglow, Keith Vaughan and Victor Willing.