Artist Annie Kevans’ work to feature in exhibition ‘Paper’ at The Saatchi Gallery


20th June, 2013

‘Paper’ at The Saatchi Gallery showcases a range of international artists in the Saatchi collection whose work is primarily on paper.

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Described as the “new Tracey Emin”, artist Annie Kevans has titled her work in Paper ‘Boys’. The paintings show 20th Century tyrants, dictators and war criminals such as Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot and Radovan Karadzic as young children.

Since graduating from Central St. Martins in 2004, when Charles Saatchi bought her series of 30 paintings of dictators as young boys, Kevans has had solo exhibitions in New York, London, Vienna and Italy. She has exhibited at art fairs including Art Basel Miami and the Armory, where her portrayals of presidential mistresses left American audiences “mildly offended” but which provoked positive press coverage in Germany, Korea, the US, the UK and Brazil. She has been a finalist in the ‘Women of the Future’ awards and a finalist in the Jerwood Drawing Prize. Her work can be found in major collections including the David Rober ts Collection, 21c Museum, the Saatchi Collection and the collections of Lord Rothermere, Marc Quinn, Adam Sender, Beth Rudin de Woody, John McEnroe and Marion & Guy Naggar.

Annie Kevans was named number 19 in Harper’s Bazaar magazine’s Forty Under 40 chart of hot new British talent and was named number 32 in New Woman magazine’s Brit Hit List. Her work is also being shown in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition.

Annie Kevans’ paintings reflect her interests in power, manipulation and the role of the individual in inherited belief systems. Kevans observes the duality of truth and falsehood throughout her work, which she does by creating ‘portraits’ which may or may not be based on real documentation. She believes that a person’s identity is not preset but is a shifting temporary construction and her work questions our verdicts on history and perceptions of intellectual solidity. Kevans uses people’s familiarity with portraiture to imbue her works with truth and to explore difficult ideas. She believes that, as her work is concept driven, sometimes the actual similarity to the person depicted in the work is irrelevant. This can be seen in her ‘Boys’ series which is not about portraying the dictators as they really looked as children but rather about the notion of the ‘innocent child’ which has influenced images of children in art since the Victorian times.

Annie uses our familiarity with public figures to draw attention to “the elephant in the room”. With her ‘Collaborators’ series, Kevans profiles famous figures such as Coco Chanel and Gaston Louis Vuitton, revealing their secretive and little-known collaboration with the Nazis during World War II. The works in ‘Girls’, which looks at the sexualisation of childhood, sees child stars such as Brooke Shields, Britney Spears and The Olsen Twins take on an almost eerie appearance, their wide-eyed naivety counteracted by sensuously plump red lips and semi-nudity.

Having an affinity for the marginalised, Kevans paints figures overlooked, exploited, or objectified within the context of history or contemporary culture, imbuing her subjects with a tangible humanity and sensuality.

The collection includes 30 paintings:

Idi Amin
Ion Antonescu
Hugo Banzer
Humberto Branco
Nicolae Ceausescu
Ngo Dinh Diem
Francois Duvalier
Jean Claude Duvalier
Francisco Franco
Hissene Habre
Adolf Hitler
Saddam Hussein
Kim Il Sung
Radovan Karadzic
Alexander Lukashenka
Ferdinand Marcos
Slobodan Milosevic
Robert Mugabe
Benito Mussolini
Ante Pavelic
Pol Pot
Efrain Rios Montt
Joseph Stalin
Alfredo Stroessner
Mohamed Suharto
Hendrik Verwoerd
Jorge Rafael Videla
Ne Win
Asaka Yasuhiko
Mao Zedung

Annie is working on a new series entitled ‘The History of Art’ which features female artists who all enjoyed success during their lifetimes but about whom very little is known today. The series raises questions about the recording of art history (by predominantly male art historians) and its effect on the way we understand the role of women in art today. The series includes Cecilia Beaux (1855 – 1942 American), Suzanne Valadon (1865 – 1938 French), Marietta Tintoretto (1560 – 1590 Italian).

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