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WHY I STOPPED PAINTING

JOHN KEANE

SEPTEMBER 2021,

WHY I STOPPED PAINTING

I have recently re-read George Orwell’s short essay ‘Why I write’, a very honest account of both his own and the more general motivations that lead any artist to take up the tools of their trade. This has, in part, prompted me to ask myself why I have put down the tools of my trade. It is now over 18 months since I picked up a brush to paint, largely coinciding with the outbreak of Sars Covid-19 that has wrought havoc and misery across the world, and still continues to do so. I think that both the pandemic and my own cessation of artistic output are more than just coincidental, and, as it has with so many other things, the pandemic has provided both a catalyst and camouflage for the change in my own life. Now that the world is slowly and cautiously emerging, we hope, from the worst ravages of this disease, I find that in the resuming niceties of social interaction I am obliged to tell friends and acquaintances I have not seen for some time what I have been up to in the meantime, and answer the question I dread, ‘Have you been working?’. I mumble and stutter and dissemble in reply (words like ‘indefinite sabbatical’ escape), and attempt to make a convincing account of how my time has been spent usefully whilst the world virtually stopped and the days and months blurred into each other with no visible landmarks to measure them. Sometimes it is thought that as a ‘political’ artist I might have been spurred into some profound offering on the nature of the last year and a half. But in fact the opposite is true.

When Lockdown 1 was announced an exhibition of new paintings of mine, under the title ‘Flat Earth’, was scheduled to open in London. Within 2 days of opening and an abandoned private view, the gallery lights were switched off. As any artist, I’m sure, will tell you, the staging of an exhibition of new work is more than just an enterprise. It is an emotional investment which is anxiously seeking a return. Orwell cited the first of his four great motivations for the writer in creating their work with his customary candour and honesty:

'(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity'

As I read these lines again I also have to put up my hand and plead guilty. After all that time alone in the studio conceiving and creating these works of such coruscating brilliance and insight there is a craving for that brilliance and insight to be recognised and celebrated. And best of all, bought. The closure of the show was a blow, only slightly mitigated by the fact that return to normality might resume before too long. We cannot know whether recognition and celebration (and sales) were thwarted by the pandemic, or if the show having run its proper course would have made me feel energised to get back into the studio. But if I’m honest, I suspect not, as for some time my thoughts had been leading me to a certain realisation. When, six months later, things looked more encouraging the show opened again, but in reduced form and under a new punchy title, ‘Viral’. But again no private view, no event, no feedback, and gallery visits only by appointment. As if released into a vacuum, I felt it had gone off at half cock. Those thoughts that had been hovering in my mind over the past two or three years as possible courses of action if things did not change for the better began to feel like the obvious thing to do.

It its now nearly forty years since I was able to renounce my previous short-lived careers as cleaner, waiter, civil service clerk or scenic painter to make a living solely from the sale of my own work. It has been a good run - better, probably, than for many who set out with the ambitions that I had as a young man. But also not as good as others. There have been ups and downs, but I’ve made a living doing what I chose to do and what I loved doing (most of the time). However in recent years, for whatever reason, there has been an unmistakeable downturn, in the sense that the disappointment generated after the emotional investment of producing and showing work in the end eclipses any gratification. To some extent all shows end feeling like failures (Orwell said as much about books), and getting back into the studio and starting to climb that mountain again has become progressively less appealing. I no longer have the stamina of my youth. Orwell again:

'One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention.'

Staging exhibitions in recent years has also frequently brought to mind Einstein’s famous quotation:

'doing the same thing repeatedly, and expecting different results is the definition of insanity'

One decision I did make many years ago, which demonstrated a rare astuteness and foresight on my part was, fed up with the whims of landlords and the uncertainty of leases, I bought myself a beautiful studio space in a semi derelict building in what has turned out after many years to be a location of prime real estate. Not long after I moved in Jamie Oliver opened a restaurant round the corner and the surrounding derelict warehouses became luxury loft apartments. With the result that it is now clear that the equity of my property portfolio is vastly in excess of that of my artist’s portfolio. The reality is I would actually be materially better off not working than working. Such is the nature of world we inhabit, the irony being that it is often such aspects of this world that have fuelled in my work a critique of what these values demonstrate about our society.

At the time I first began showing and selling work on a sustainable basis, in the early eighties, the art world was a different, more modest place. As the Thatcher years instilled and made respectable a new materialism in society (and yes, there is such a thing as society) the art world in turn became marinaded in the heady atmosphere wafting from the newly deregulated City. Wealth by its very nature is an abstract concept and needs to find tangible assets to park itself and grow. And where once old masters might have been the place for newly acquired capital to soak itself up, now for the younger and cooler it was contemporary art. And ludicrously astronomical prices reflected not the quality of the art, but the sheer concentration of wealth needing to find a home. This home, of course, needs to be protected. Artist values and prices need to be protected, and inflated. Museums and galleries, of course, provide a function for this.

The art world is indeed a murky and mysterious place. Although, technically, it has been the pond that I have been fortunate to swim in and feed for most of my life, I have never understood it, and I still don’t know how it works. If it is a pond, then I have been splashing around in the backwaters, on the margins, not really making any waves but gratefully swallowing any morsel thrown my way as I watch, often in disbelief, sometimes in admiration, the antics of fatter fish, nurtured and basking, in the sunnier pools of the main stream, shocked occasionally by the crassness. Patronage from the art establishment is something that has largely passed me by me throughout my career. You can search in vain to find a single work of mine in the collections of the Tate, Arts Council or British Council. I have never been approached by the more prestigious public art institutions and galleries to show work.The Royal Academy is a club I have never been invited to join (but then again, I’m a bit Groucho Marx about these things, anyway). I have survived in spite of these institutions rather than because of them. I dare say my work has never fallen within the prevailing orthodoxies of art practice that wax and wain over the years, presided over and policed by the Curatocracy. Perhaps they just don’t rate me, perhaps they’ve never heard of me. Who knows? But actually, it grates.

I was once a war artist. I was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum - it was a fantastic gig and I am hugely grateful to have been asked. Human moral values are what prompted me to pick up the brush from early on, even perhaps before I realised it. Life and death. Violence and ideology. The value and the cheapness of human life. The willingness to kill other human beings, the justification for so doing. I am fortunate. I am of a generation that never had to take up arms to defend family, property or way of life (in contrast to my parents’ generation). But when I was young I decided to pick up a brush in an effort to understand why some people do. This made my work political. Again, Orwell:

‘The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.’

However political art is not necessarily an easy sell. Atrocity and genocide are not great crowd pleasers.

Over the years projects - some of my own making, some by invitation - have taken me to many parts of the globe. Central America, Northern Ireland, The Amazon, the Middle East, Africa. All extraordinary adventures involving extraordinary people. But I have been most of that time, five days a week, nine to six, in my studio. Being an artist was not for me existing aloof from the world out there, watching terrible events on a screen, but rather endeavouring to engage with it, dip my toe in it, somehow to understand it. And maybe, thereby, in some puny way, to help it:

'Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.' (Why I write, motive IV)

It was substantially through exposure to art that I came to evolve values of my own. Views of the world, as it is, as it might be, that I absorbed in my formative years. Painting, literature, film, music. This art was powerful, and sometimes it even wielded power. After all it was more likely the Beatles not the Bomb that brought down the Berlin Wall.

I have been fortunate in having rich and varied experience throughout my working life. I have exhibited regularly in private, and occasionally public, galleries. I have been appointed professor, held academic posts, but never had to rely on teaching. The two most exciting and gratifying experiences without doubt have been my brief collaborative excursions into live music theatre productions. And over the years, many people have liked my work enough to shell out their hard earned cash. No-one, so far as I know, has bought my work to park their cash and watch it grow. It would be a stupid investor who did. Nevertheless, there has been much work which, for whatever reason, remains in ‘the collection of the artist’. Quite a mountain of it - I have been very prolific and a good deal of that work is on a large scale. Much of it would not now pass the scrutiny of my increasingly critical quality criteria. But there is a substantial volume of it which I would stand by, even be proud of. However there is quite a lot of it, and it takes up space. It can sit in storage for the time being, but ultimately it will demand attention. And I will not be around for ever to accommodate it. I would not wish it on my children to have to process it. Under the prevailing circumstances, it seems that that, really, is enough, for now at least. It does not justify adding to. Someone will eventually have to ‘deal’ with it. It’s not that I’ve finished being an artist, it’s just that I don’t feel the justification for bringing work into the world that may not have a home to go to. Like orphans needing a home.

My output has largely been stimulated by my responses to the political world around me, and my disillusion with producing art has also coincided with political disillusion. I count myself as an optimist, but perhaps I was just born into optimistic times. These times seem to have passed. Now we live in populist times. It may not be just chance that the last painting I produced, called ‘Entitled Number Two’, was an image of our prime minister celebrating election victory with a plastic turd stuck to the canvas. It is a cheap joke. But it is also more than that. It is recognition that in the face of despair we can perhaps be comforted by cheap jokes. And it is indeed about despair. But it celebrates vulgar humour, a bitter humour, and word play (‘Untitled’, followed by a number, is often used by artists who cannot or will not think of a title for a work. Our prime minister by birth, by education, is ENtitled, and a number two - a shit - geddit? Oh well.) It is the humour of last resort.

I have stopped painting, but in a way I don’t miss it. I don’t miss the graft. In some ways it actually feels like a relief. The genesis of most of my work has been from a mixture of fascination and outrage which needed processing, and the processing was making art. But making art is a slow and painstaking business. Some of it can actually be quite boring - the bits in the middle. It’s the beginning and the end where lies the most excitement, satisfaction. And in the end, the things that fascinate and outrage me are not going to change as a result of anything I might do. I fully accept that I am the person I am because of the art in all its forms from music and drama and image that I experienced in my formative years and beyond, but I’m not convinced that anything I produce is going to have sufficient traction to make any comparable difference.

I am 67 years old this year. I hope there may yet be a good few years before senility sets in. By the time I reached adulthood, much to my regret, the British passport no longer had a box for the holder to fill in ‘profession’, in which since early teens had been my ambition to write ‘artist’. Nonetheless It became my profession, and ever since it has been closely woven into my identity - that social construct we fall back on to mix among our fellow beings. The inevitable question ‘what do you do?’ or for those who know what I do ‘what are you doing at the moment?’, is the question I dread because I’ve never had an adequate answer, and of course now even less. I can’t describe what I’m doing, or have done, when required to supply details. Now perhaps I can just refer interlocutors to these pages.

But stopping painting poses the existential question. What am I doing? What am I for? Since teenage years I have been wedded to the idea derived from reading Sartre that you are what you do. You create your purpose for being - purpose does not pre-exist. So where there was painting, now there is a - I was going to say ‘hole’, but that sounds too negative, so I shall say ‘gap’, and the moment I am not sure how that gap will be filled. I have not lost the creative urge that is at my core. But could it equally well be satiated by whittling sticks, gardening, or restoring mid century furniture? Something that does not take up space.

The world, we trust, will eventually settle down from the trauma that was Covid. But for the moment, anyway, from me:
That's All Folks!

That's All Folks!

' Artist John Keane has provided us with a more weighted account of a moment with Sid Vicious that will go down in infamy.'

FAR OUT MAGAZINE September 2021

    https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/the-birth-of-punk-45-years-on-from-100-club-punk-special/?fbclid=IwAR2U7eJEE4SdZ9e5WP0HmSQ2awxoT8v2sGUILisFq1wvRXbTrAaKPzmbPo8

' Artist John Keane has provided us with a more weighted account of a moment with Sid Vicious that will go down in infamy.'

2020 HINDSIGHT

STUDIO SHOW AND SALE

8B Nile Street (ground floor), London N1 7RF, 3rd-12th December 2020

2020 HINDSIGHT

Announcing a studio show and sale of paintings, prints and drawings, including work from the Gulf War, Central America, the Middle East, the Moscow theatre siege series and more.
My studio will be open both to casual visitors and by appointment from 3rd - 12th December, 11am - 5pm.
All welcome. Enquiries please email jk@johnkeaneart.com

Ground Floor Studio B
8 Nile Street
London N1 7RF
0207 251 3299
(Underground: Old St, Buses: 394, 43, 205, 214)
Armageddon Now 2 2003 oil/gold leaf/inkjet/viscose/linen 132x82cm

Armageddon Now 2 2003 oil/gold leaf/inkjet/viscose/linen 132x82cm
Ismael 2003 oil/inkjet/viscose/linen  125x85cm
Ismael 2003 oil/inkjet/viscose/linen 125x85cm
Opposite Effect (Blinking Diana) 2000 Monoprint 80x55cm
Opposite Effect (Blinking Diana) 2000 Monoprint 80x55cm
Todos Somos Marcos 1995 Linocut 40x33cm
Todos Somos Marcos 1995 Linocut 40x33cm
Sometimes They’re Painted and Sometimes They’re Just Stuck On 2001 Oil/Inkjet/paper/canvas  107x82cm
Sometimes They’re Painted and Sometimes They’re Just Stuck On 2001 Oil/Inkjet/paper/canvas 107x82cm
Steve Biko, 1978, PVA/canvas 60x60cm
Steve Biko, 1978, PVA/canvas 60x60cm
4 x Murdochs oil/inkjet/cotton 41x30cm
4 x Murdochs oil/inkjet/cotton 41x30cm
42 John Keane, Twelve Selves (Selve Forty Two), Oil and Image Transfer on Linen, 2017, 40 x 30cm
42 John Keane, Twelve Selves (Selve Forty Two), Oil and Image Transfer on Linen, 2017, 40 x 30cm
Drawing 1996
Drawing 1996
Angola Drawing 2008
Angola Drawing 2008
Drawing 1995
Drawing 1995
Moonlight Dance 1988 woodcut 34x28cm
Moonlight Dance 1988 woodcut 34x28cm
Ten Small Paintings from the Dobrovka Theatre Siege  no.2 (12x20in). John Keane 2005. Oil on Linen
Ten Small Paintings from the Dobrovka Theatre Siege no.2 (12x20in). John Keane 2005. Oil on Linen
Oil on Paper 1993 screenprint with collage & sand
Oil on Paper 1993 screenprint with collage & sand
Satellite City screenprint 1993
Satellite City screenprint 1993
Small World 1994 screenprint with woodblock
Small World 1994 screenprint with woodblock
Now You Don't woodcut 1994
Now You Don't woodcut 1994
Book  1994 (The Satanic Verses), screenprint with collage and sand
Book 1994 (The Satanic Verses), screenprint with collage and sand
Incident on the Beach 1983 mixed media/collage 56x75cm
Incident on the Beach 1983 mixed media/collage 56x75cm
The Civil Servant Explains about the Crisis 1982 mixed media/paper 56x75cm
The Civil Servant Explains about the Crisis 1982 mixed media/paper 56x75cm
John Keane, Landscape Drawing with a Photograph Signed by Christo, 1977 crayon/poatcard/paper 56x75cm
John Keane, Landscape Drawing with a Photograph Signed by Christo, 1977 crayon/poatcard/paper 56x75cm
Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir Speedboating with Fidel Castro 1978 crayon/pencil/paper
Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir Speedboating with Fidel Castro 1978 crayon/pencil/paper
Trompe L'Oeil 2 2001, oil/beeswax/injet/paper 114x84cm
Trompe L'Oeil 2 2001, oil/beeswax/injet/paper 114x84cm
I.D.2, 2007 inkjet/gold leaf/jute 29x35cm
I.D.2, 2007 inkjet/gold leaf/jute 29x35cm
Angola Fabric Prints 2008, Inkjet on cotton
Angola Fabric Prints 2008, Inkjet on cotton
Coin design for the Royal Mint 2015, Inkjet on paper
Coin design for the Royal Mint 2015, Inkjet on paper
Jean-Paul Sartre, 1977 crayon/paper
Jean-Paul Sartre, 1977 crayon/paper
Charles Baudelaire 1977, crayon/paper
Charles Baudelaire 1977, crayon/paper

John Keane in conversation with Philip Dodd

Philip Dodd talks to John Keane about the exhibition VIRAL

    https://vimeo.com/457860888/e83d536d88?fbclid=IwAR3S8J2DTfdtyOO4pbKHHTNMmN3aVficfyNozjCod942cw5k7HRFIGurYI8

John Keane in conversation with Philip Dodd

FLAT EARTH GOES VIRAL

Pleased to announce that FLAT EARTH, aborted before opening in March, will reopen in September under the new title VIRAL

Flowers Gallery, 21 Cork Street, London W1S 3LZ, 16th September - 31st October 2020    https://www.flowersgallery.com/exhibitions/500-john-keane-viral/

FLAT EARTH GOES VIRAL

REFUGEES

Imperial War Museum, London, From 24th September 2020    https://www.iwm.org.uk/events/refugees-forced-to-flee

REFUGEES

JOHN KEANE INTERVIEWED BY MONOCLE RADIO, 18/3/20

Interview begins at 51.00min

    https://monocle.com/radio/shows/the-globalist/2188/

FLAT EARTH IS CLOSED TEMPORARILY...

However there is a viewing room on the Flowers gallery website with images and a commentary by the artist accompanied by a soundtrack by Brian Eno

    https://www.flowersgallery.com/exhibitions/238-john-keane-flat-earth/

JOHN KEANE AT AESTHETICA FUTURE NOW SYMPOSIUM 2020

Painting Contemporary Thought

De Grey Court Theatre, , York St John University, YO31 7EX , 12.30 - 1.30, Friday 13th March 2020    https://aestheticamagazine.com/future-now-symposium-2020/

JOHN KEANE AT AESTHETICA FUTURE NOW SYMPOSIUM 2020

CAN ART STOP A BULLET?

This is the official FanForce cinema trailer for Can Art Stop a Bullet? William Kelly's Big Picture. (including John Keane interview).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irTEVjvAubk

CAN ART STOP A BULLET?

JOHN KEANE: FLAT EARTH

FLOWERS GALLERY, LONDON, Kingsland Road, 13 Mar – 2 May 2020    https://www.flowersgallery.com/exhibitions/view/john-keane-flat-earth

JOHN KEANE: FLAT EARTH

The collection of works in the exhibition Flat Earth have been created over the last two years amid dramatic shifts in the domestic and global political landscape. From conspiracy theories to data mining, Keane’s subjects span the evolving and influential world of information technology and the resulting network of alternative facts, misinformation and cyber warfare.

JOHN KEANE ON RADIO3 FREE THINKING 11/6/19

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0005sj4

JOHN KEANE ON RADIO3 FREE THINKING 11/6/19

John Keane discusses 'If You Knew Me. If You Knew Yourself. You Would Not Kill Me.' and 'At The Front', Aldeburgh Festival, June 2019.

ALDEBURGH FESTIVAL 2019

IF YOU KNEW ME. IF YOU KNEW YOURSELF. YOU WOULD NOT KILL ME.

Snape Maltings and Aldeburgh: various locations.,

ALDEBURGH FESTIVAL 2019

Paintings from the Rwanda series and other recent work

Aldeburgh Festival 2019 :John Keane

TROUBLES ART LUNCHTIME TALK

Troubles Art Lunchtime Talk: John Keane

Nerve Centre, 6-8 Magazine Street Derry BT48 6HJ, THURSDAY 25 APR 2019 - 1:00PM    https://www.nervecentre.org/whats-on/talk/troubles-art-lunchtime-talk-john-keane

John Keane will discuss his work and artistic practice at this free lunchtime talk. Please note that the venue for this talk is Nerve Centre, 7-8 Magazine Street, Derry~Londonderry.

TROUBLES ART

Nerve Centre, 7-8 Magazine St, Derry~Londonderry, BT48 6GJ,, SATURDAY 19 JAN 2019 - 11:00AM TO SUNDAY 28 APR 2019 - 5:00PM    http://nervecentre.org/whats-on/exhibition/troubles-art

TROUBLES ART

Drawn from the art collection at National Museums NI, the Troubles Art exhibition provides a broad representation of responses to the Troubles by a range of artists from Northern Ireland and beyond. The subjects, themes and meanings of the works are diverse and offer the perspectives of the artists themselves.

FLOWERS CONREMPORARY II

LONDON Kingsland Road, 9 January – 9 February 2019    https://www.flowersgallery.com/exhibitions/view/flowers-contemporary-ii

FLOWERS CONREMPORARY II

Despocracy 1-4 installation,
2018, oil/linen, 150x150cm each panel

Flowers Contemporary III

NEW YORK Chelsea, 19 January – 23 March 2019    https://www.flowersgallery.com/exhibitions/view/flowers-contemporary-iii

Flowers Contemporary III

Float 2015
Oil on linen
200 x 200 cm

LIFE DURING WARTIME: TALK

22nd September 2018

Summerhall,     https://www.summerhall.co.uk/event/life-during-wartime-tour-and-artist-talk/

LIFE DURING WARTIME: TALK

FREE THE PUSSY

SUMMERHALL, Edinburgh, 2nd August - 23rd September 2018    https://festival18.summerhall.co.uk/exhibition/free-the-pussy/

FREE THE PUSSY

Artists include: Gina Birch, Tamsyn Challenger, Judy Chicago, Billy Chyldish, Gaggle, John Keane, No Bra, Hayley Newman, The Gluts, Kaffe Matthews, Yoko Ono, Miss Pokeno, Pussy Riot, Jamie Reid, Layla Sailor, Wendy Saunders, Carolee Schneeman and more.Masha Alyokhina of Pussy Riot is interviewed in front of Fear Not (2013) for Reporting Scotland

Masha Alyokhina of Pussy Riot is interviewed in front of Fear Not (2013) for Reporting Scotland

LIFE DURING WARTIME

Paintings 1992-2017

Summerhall, Edinburgh, Thu 02 Aug 2018 - Sun 23 Sep 2018    https://festival18.summerhall.co.uk/exhibition/john-keane/

LIFE DURING WARTIME

Opening for the @018 Edinburgh Festival, LIFE DURING WARTIME is a survey of paintings exploring themes of military, social and political conflict around the world dating from the artist’s appointment as the Imperial War Museum’s official artist for the Gulf War of 1990-91. The exhibition includes paintings from the 1992 Gulf series, which brought Keane to national attention and even provoked tabloid outrage over interpretations of his imagery, together with later work from Israel and Palestine, where his paintings document people living within a landscape of violence. Subsequently he also addressed the post 9/11 rise of global terror, addressing the consequences of wars waged in distant locations and the blowback of terrorism this has fostered closer to home. Other recent subject matter has included Stalinist and contemporary Russia (including the 2002 Moscow theatre siege), post conflict Angola, and the Rwandan genocide.Guardian Five of the Best

Guardian Five of the Best
The Times
The Times
The Scotsman
The Scotsman
Scotsman
Scotsman
Scotsman review : Life During Wartime
Scotsman review : Life During Wartime

The Scotsman Review, 15/8/18

The Times (you'll have to pay for this..)

Guardian : 5 of the Best
Guardian : 5 of the Best

CAMDEN SCHOOL FOR GIRLS ANONYMOUS ART AUCTION 2018

Until June 10th    https://www.jumblebee.co.uk/anonymouspostcardauction2018

All the artists have generously donated A5 sized postcards anonymously. You won't know who has created the postcard until the auction is closed, but you can have a pretty good guess. The starting bid for all items is £35.

TWELVE SELVES

FLOWERS GALLERY, LONDON Cork Street, 21 February – 7 April 2018    https://www.flowersgallery.com/exhibitions/view/john-keane-18

TWELVE SELVESSelve
Selve

Galleries Now VR Exhibition Preview

ART CONFLICT and CONTEXT

Europe House, Smith Square, SW1 3EU, 28thNovember - 8th December 2017    https://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/events_en

ART CONFLICT and CONTEXT

Since Gulf War 1, digital reporting on television and online has reshaped how we see conflicts. Against the immediacy of media imagery, Art, Conflict and Context provides an alternative perspective on war and its effects, drawing widely on John Keane's work including the struggle with Daesh and the impact of Guantanamo Bay.

To open this new exhibition, John Keane discusses the influence of the media on his work with the curator, Jane Quinn. The exhibition will continue until 8 December, 2017.

Free Thinking Radio 4 22/6/17

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08v8y03

Wyndham Lewis

John Keane in conversation with Jon Snow

Flowers LONDON , Kingsland Road, 21 November 2106

On Monday 21st November, 2016 Flowers Gallery hosted a special ‘in conversation’ event between former Official British War Artist John Keane, and journalist and television presenter Jon Snow. Please click on the video below to watch a recording of the event.




Snow is best known for being the longest-running presenter of the Channel 4 News, since 1989. He won a BAFTA in 2005, and was named Journalist of the Year (2006) and Presenter of the Year (2009) by the Royal Television Society. Snow joined Flowers Gallery in East London immediately after presenting the Channel 4 News, which Keane describes as a “an essential fixed point in my daily consumption of news”.




John Keane’s reputation as a political artist has been established through a sustained artistic inquiry into the horrors of military and social conflicts around the world, and the effects of media distortion. His subjects have included Northern Ireland, Central America and the Middle East; and has involved working with organisations such as Greenpeace and Christian Aid. Keane first came to prominence when he was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum in 1990 to be the Official British War Artist of the Gulf War.




The pair were introduced in 2009 when Keane was commissioned to paint a portrait of Snow to mark his 20th anniversary with Channel 4. Former Director of the National Portrait Gallery Sandy Nairne said of the piece "Jon Snow by John Keane brings a much loved figure from television into the world of art, to striking effect." Following the portrait commission, Snow interviewed Keane for the television series ‘The Genius of British Art’ in 2010, and they have remained in touch. The territory that Keane has explored in his career as a painter has often overlapped with Snow's own. The pair discussed their shared interest in politics and current affairs, the evolution of war art and its continued value in a digital society, and Keane’s project produced in response to the commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which was the subject of his exhibition If You Knew Me. If you Knew Yourself. You Would Not Kill Me at Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road.


CHAOS - an exhibition curated by Nicole Farhi

Hampstead School of Art , Penrose Gardens, London NW3 7BF, 14 November 2016 - 27 January 2017    http://hampstead-school-of-art.org/autumn-event/events/chaos-an-exhibition-curated-by-nicole-farhi.html

CHAOS - an exhibition curated by Nicole Farhi

John Keane in conversation with Jon Snow. Monday 21st November, 8-10pm at Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road, London

Flowers, Kingsland Road, London, 21 November 2016, 8-10pm    http://www.flowersgallery.com/exhibitions/view/john-keane-if-you-knew-me-if-you-knew-yourself-you-would-not-kill-me

John Keane in conversation with Jon Snow. Monday 21st November, 8-10pm at Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road, London

Flowers Gallery is pleased to be hosting a special ‘in conversation’ event between former Official British War Artist John Keane, and journalist and television presenter Jon Snow.

Snow is best known for being the longest-running presenter of the Channel 4 News, since 1989. Snow will join us at Flowers Gallery in East London immediately after he has presented the programme, which Keane describes as a “an essential fixed point in my daily consumption of news”.

FIFTY SEVEN HOURS IN THE HOUSE OF CULTURE

Paintings of the Moscow theatre siege, 2002.

Byre Theatre, St Andrews, June - November 2016    http://byretheatre.com/events/john-keane-exhibition/

FIFTY SEVEN HOURS IN THE HOUSE OF CULTURE

BBC WORLD UPDATE: Paintings of the Moscow theatre siege, June 2016

John Keane talks to Dan Damon, 9th June 2016

CAMDEN SCHOOL FOR GIRLS ANONYMOUS ART AUCTION

June 2016    http://www.camdengirls.camden.sch.uk/news/?pid=469&nid=2&storyid=701

All the artists have generously donated A5 sized postcards anonymously. You won't know who has created the postcard until the auction is closed. The starting bid for all items is £35.

London Original Print Fair 2016

    http://www.flowersgallery.com/exhibitions/view/london-original-print-fair-2016

London Original Print Fair 2016

Kneel 2016, MonotypeSwinging London 1, 2016

Swinging London 1, 2016

Artists and refugees join Syria postcard project

Artists, actors and celebrities are joining refugees and school children for the British Red Cross Postcards for Syria project to mark five years of the humanitarian crisis.

    http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Media-centre/Press-releases/2016/March/Artists-and-refugees-join-Syria-postcard-project

Artists and refugees join Syria postcard project

BID!

BID!

BID!

Discussion Event on Sunday 17 April, 5-7pm, exploring the theme of Art, War and the Role of Memory. Panellists Richard Cork, Albyn Leah Hall, John Keane and Dr Glenn Sujo. Chaired by Estelle Lovatt.

    https://www.artrabbit.com/events/paintings-by-ron-delavigne-19192013

 Discussion Event on Sunday 17 April, 5-7pm, exploring the theme of Art, War and the Role of Memory.  Panellists Richard Cork, Albyn Leah Hall, John Keane and Dr Glenn Sujo.  Chaired by Estelle Lovatt.

Curious coincidence of Image and title...

    http://www.hauserwirth.com/exhibitions/2717/mark-wallinger-id/view/

id Painting 17 2015 by Mark Wallinger
id Painting 17 2015 by Mark Wallinger
I.D.(2), 2008, inkjet transfer & gold leaf on jute, 25x35cm by John Keane
I.D.(2), 2008, inkjet transfer & gold leaf on jute, 25x35cm by John Keane

John Keane: Prints

    http://www.flowersgallery.com/shop/prints?artists=john-keane

John Keane: Prints

What Are You Looking At? 2001. Illegal wood cut and digital print

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Aesthetica magazine

Troubles My Sight: The Art of John Keane, by Mark Lawson

JOHN KEANE IN THE RUTH BORCHARD PORTRAIT COLLECTION

    http://ruthborchard.org.uk/collection/john-keane/

JOHN KEANE'S WAR PAINT

Islington Tribune 20th November 2015

    http://www.camdenreview.com/john-keanes-war-paint

40 YEARS OF PAINTING, CAMBERWELL STUDENTS & TEACHERS, 1945 - 1985

Belgrave St Ives, 7 November – 30 November 2015    http://www.flowersgallery.com/exhibitions/view/40-years-of-painting-camberwell-students-and-teachers-1945-1985-featuring-david-hepher-john-keane-and-lucy-jones

40 YEARS OF PAINTING, CAMBERWELL STUDENTS & TEACHERS, 1945 - 1985

John Watson, Chairman, St Ives Society of Artists, a keen collector of art by Camberwell artists, and Michael Gaca, Director, Belgrave St Ives, who studied painting at Camberwell, have jointly curated this large scale exhibition of paintings and drawings

FREEDOM FROM TORTURE AUCTION

18 – 22 November 2015.

    http://www.freedomfromtorture.org/news-blogs/8628

FREEDOM FROM TORTURE AUCTION

The Ruth Borchard self-portrait prize

Piano Nobile, King's Place, London, 10th July - 9th October 2015    http://www.piano-nobile.com/exhibitions/30/works/

The Ruth Borchard self-portrait prize

Reality

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 10 July - 29 November 2015

Reality - Modern and contemporary British painting

John Keane, artist of war – from the Gulf war to Islamic State



Guardian Interview with Mark Lawson

The Wisdom of Hindsight

Kingsland Road, London, 20 May - 27 June 2015    http://flowersgallery.com/exhibitions/flowers/2015/john-keane-the-wisdom-of-hindsight/

Artnet. JOHN KEANE THE WISDOM OF HINDSIGHT

Backyard Painting
Backyard Painting

Man Who Paints The News




Keane On Radio 3 Free Thinking



RADIO 3 FREE THINKING 14.1.15

Studio International: Interview With John Keane



25/10/14

Private Passions Radio 3 John Keane



Private Passions Radio 3 John Keane

Whatever Happened To The Chilcot Inquiry?



Please sign the petition to publish

Reality: Modern & Contemporary British Painting

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, 27-Sep to 1-Mar-2015

Hopeless in Gaza (Road to a Settlement)
Hopeless in Gaza (Road to a Settlement)

The Sensory War

Manchester Art Gallery, 11-Oct to 22-Feb-2015

Ecstasy of Fumbling (Portrait of the Artist in a Gas Alert)
Ecstasy of Fumbling (Portrait of the Artist in a Gas Alert)

Reflections Of War

Flowers, Kingsland Road, 19-Jul to 30-Aug-2014

A Hundred Years
A Hundred Years

Art Of The Troubles

Ulster Museum, Apr-11 to 7-Sep-2014

The Art of the Troubles

Belfast Newsletter 5/5/14

CONTEMPLATING THE TROUBLES THROUGH ARTS

The Other Cheek? Collection Ulster Museum, Belfast
The Other Cheek? Collection Ulster Museum, Belfast

John Keane Talks About Art Under Attack

Tate Britain, 30-Sep-2013

FRONT ROW

Frieze/Outset/Tate 2013 : Here We Go Again

Imperial War Museum North, 12-Oct-2013 to 23-Feb-2014

The Importance of Being Important

OBSERVER 6/10/13

BBC London 17/10/13

Catalyst

Imperial War Museum North



Press Release

Selected Artists

Flowers Gallery, Cork St, W1, 8 to 31-Aug-2013

CULTURE, PRACTICE AND ETHICS
CULTURE, PRACTICE AND ETHICS

Stranger

an exhibition of self portraits

Flowers Gallery , Kingsland Road, 5-Jul to 31-Aug-2013

flowersgallery.com

Fear No. 1
Fear No. 1

The Royal Mint Commissioned Me To Submit Some Designs For WW1 Commemorative Coins

This is what I did..The Advisory Committee decided to go with something else



 
 

Dallington School 35th Anniversary Mug



 

Fight For Sight Auction

Menier Gallery, SE1, 22-May-2013

Stretch Rupert 3
Stretch Rupert 3

Cityscapes

Flowers New York , 11-Apr to 11-May-2013

flowersgallery.com

 

Caught In The Crossfire

Herbert Museum, Coventry, 25-Jan to 7-Jul-2013

http://www.theherbert.org/index.php/home/whats-on/caught-in-the-crossfire1

Recently Acquired For The Herbert Museum, Coventry



Scenes on the Road to Hell
Scenes on the Road to Hell

57 Hours: The Opera



For anyone who may have heard me blathering on about at some point over the last six or seven years, this is a taster video we made of a workshop presentation at the National Theatre Studio in 2010


 
 

The Time Passage Series

Flowers New York , 529 West 20th Street New York NY, 03-Aug to 23-Aug-2012

Time Passage no.3 (Fourteen and Nine)
Time Passage no.3 (Fourteen and Nine)

12 British Artists

John Keane: The Father Instinct



THE ESSAY BBC RADIO3 25/7/12/

Royal Society Of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition

3 to 17-May-2012

http://www.therp.co.uk/society/exhibitionsortraits-the-lens-and-the-eye/

Blinking Rupert 1-12
Blinking Rupert 1-12

Cuba Beyond The Frame

Gallery 27 , Cork Street London W1S 3NG , 23 to 28-Apr-2012

Guardian 19.4.12

Leading Contemporary Artists Unite Against Torture And Organised Violence

Village Underground, 54 Holywell Lane, City of London EC2A 3PQ, Monday-28-Nov-2012

Freedom from Torture Auction

The Art Of War

Chelsea Arts Club, Nov-2011

Ghosts Of Gone Birds



Ghost of Gone Birds will be presenting its latest show at the Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, Shoreditch, London E2 7ES from Nov.2 to 23rd featuring over 200 new works from artists as diverse as Sir Peter Blake, Ralph Steadman, John Keane,Charming Baker, Rob Ryan and Kai & Sunny. The show is dedicated to breathing artistic life back into the bird species we have lost. There will be live printing, talks, readings and performances

http://www.ghostsofgonebirds.com/

Ghosts of Gone Birds
Ghosts of Gone Birds
Dead Parrot Sketch
Dead Parrot Sketch

Slags Against Jihad - New Limited Edition T-Shirts



 
 

The Politics Show

1-Nov-2011

 

The Politics Show Artists' resale right

The Father Instinct

25 to 29-Apr-2011

A five part series conceived and curated by Lou Stein, was broadcast on BBC Radio 3's The Essay

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b010gnh4

Genius Of British Art, With Jon Snow

Channel 4, Nov-7-2010

http://www.channel4.comrogrammes/the-genius-of-british-art/4od#3135696

 
 

Unveiling Of Kofi Annan's Portrait With Un Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

New-York, Oct-12-2010

Statement by Ban Ki-moon

 
 
 
 

Standing Room Only

Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Rd London, 3-Aug to 4-Sept-2010

Independent 4.8.10

Kofi Annan And Portrait Commissioned For The UN

Feb-2010

 

John And Jon - Commissioned By Channel 4



John Snow
John Snow

The Ties Have it..

Legend



There is an urban legend that Tom Lehrer gave up political satire when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Henry Kissinger in 1973. Tracy Emin was elected a Royal Academician in 2008. Where are you, Tom?

Children In Conflict

Aberystwyth Art centre, 16-May to 27-Jun-2009

Children in Conflict was a touring exhibition by Wolverhampton Art Gallery in association with Christian Aid, visiting the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry from 11 July - 13 September 2009. Two works by John Keane from this exhibition, Brothers 1 and Brothers 2, will be displayed for 12 months in the Peace & Reconciliation gallery.

Terry Grimley, Bimingham Post, July 21 2009

The Art Of Survival

An exhibition and auction of works donated by British & international artists

Maddox Arts, 52 Brook's Mews, London W1K 4ED , 5 to 7-May-2009

Helen Bamber Foundation

John Keane: Intelligent Design

More paintings about war and religion.

Flowers Gallery, 82 Kingsland Road, London E2 8DP, 20- -Mar to 18-Apr-2009

When evolution sceptics wish to attack Charles Darwin's theories, they often point to the human eye. How could something so complex, they argue, have developed through random mutations and natural selection, even over millions of years? Even though Darwin and his followers have provided credible explanations which have answered these questions, 150 years after the publication of On the Origin of Species the battle still rages. The starting point of John Keane’s new series of paintings, Intelligent Design plays with the contrasting belief systems of scientific empiricism and religious faith, and uses image and metaphor of visual perception to reflect upon this conflict of ideas - and the very real conflicts that they continue to fuel A series of ‘ink blot’ paintings use Darwin ?s face in a Rorschach test to reveal hidden species - butterflies in his eyes, bears in his beard... His face appears miraculously on the body of a Peppered Moth, (a hotly contested species cited by advocates as tangible evidence of evolution), like the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast, or the face of Christ in the Turin Shroud. Keane is playfully suggesting to us that perhaps we see what we want, or are conditioned, to see However, the bulk of this new work addresses the atrocities of the war in Iraq and its link to the home grown terrorism that implicates us all. Keane was the official war artist for the Imperial War Museum during the first Gulf war, but this is the first time he has made reference to the current conflict in Iraq. In a series of powerful and disturbing paintings, subjects include mutilations of the human body and the torture of prisoners - hooded and deprived of sight. Other subjects allude to the London tube bombings, the attack on Glasgow airport, and the murder of Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam. All of these atrocities grasp at a perceived justification seen through a prism of ideology and religion. In this exhibition, Keane is boldly and uncompromisingly confronting the belief systems and perceived threats that increasingly divide the population of a planet which should really be addressing the far more serious issue of it?s own survival A full colour catalogue with an introduction by playwright David Edgar was published to coincide with the exhibition.Star Dust

Star Dust

Tate Trustee...?



Some years ago a fat envelope arrived on my door mat marked DCMS. The contents turned out to be an application form to join a list of worthies who might be considered for positions as trustees of public bodies. With exhilarating thoughts about how the art establishment had finally come to its senses and was now humbly begging me to serve on one of its ruling cabals, I waded through paragraphs on topics such as ?probity in public office?, ?conflicts of interest? and how all appointees were personally approved by the Prime Minister. It turned out that the then director of the National Portrait Gallery had proposed me as possible candidate for a vacancy on their board, and, needless to say, I was flattered by his consideration. I duly completed the application and returned it to the DCMS, and I don?t remember whether it was with disappointment or relief that I was subsequently informed that the position had been awarded to someone else no doubt more suited to the post. End of story, or so I thought. Imagine my surprise, therefore, upon arriving at my studio one day toward the end of 2004 to find a message from someone at ?Tate? soliciting an application to fill a vacancy of artist trustee. With exhilarating thoughts about how the art establishment had finally come to its senses and was now humbly begging me to serve on one of its ruling cabals, I immediately returned the call and requested an application form. It was really only as I sat at my computer and set about filling in the details that the penny dropped. Particularly when it came to the ?work in public collections? part of my cv, which, whilst it does mention a number of public museums and galleries, nowhere does it contain the word ?Tate?, which just about sums up my relationship with the contemporary art establishment. I alluded to this anomaly in the blank space allowed for pitching my case about why I?d be a jolly good trustee etc. whilst expressing my surprise at being approached in the first place. However,It was now plain to me that since the trusteeship of the existing artist from an approved stable (Gillian Wearing) was drawing to a close they better find another one quick, but presumably due process had to be followed and several submissions would need to be invited. Some underling had obviously dusted off my name on the DCMS list from an old filing cabinet and it got chucked in the hat to make up the numbers. Never for a moment, though, if I thought about it, did I feel that my application would be taken seriously, but I filed the application nonetheless, perhaps just to prove a point. In due course a letter from Nicholas Serota arrived which informed me that I ?did not match the criteria for the appointment as well as some of the other applicants?, which I took to mean ?There?s been a bureaucratic error. You?re not actually on the list of approved artists?. I could have told him this at the outset and saved us all the bother. Fiona Rae got the trusteeship, and I was left with a nasty taste in my mouth. Shortly afterwards I removed my name from the DCMS list.

Commissioned By Christian Aid



In 2008/9 I showed the work I produced on my 2006 visit with the charity to examine the post war conditions in Angola. The work was part of a larger exhibition which toured to several other destinations, including Aberdeen and London. In the course of creating this work, I designed a number of African style fabrics, using motifs such as land mines and oil rigs, and these were incorporated into shirts, t-shirts and bags designed by Nicole Farhi, and sold to raise funds and promote awareness of the issues that face this country since the war ended.

 

http://www.christianaid.org.uk/conflict www.christianaid.org.uk/conflict/

 

This is myself with Luis Samacumbi, humanitarian worker from Luanda, Angola, who came over for the opening at Wolverhampton. Luis and his brother Amaral, depicted in the 2 paintings, 'Brother 1&2' were abducted as teenagers to fight for UNITA and the MPLA respectively, and Amaral was believed to have died in the fighting. In fact he lost a leg in a land mine explosion and when they were reunited after 27 years it turned out they had been in the same battle on opposing sides.Land Mines
Land Mines

These are some shirts (modelled by Ariyon Bakare) that Nicole Farhi has created using the fabrics I designed for the 'Brother' paintings.
 
 Oil Rigs
Oil Rigs
Football
Football
Village T-Shirt
Village T-Shirt

Fifty Seven Hours In The House Of Culture - An Opera



This is an idea that came to me during the early stages of producing the paintings about the Moscow theatre siege of 2002. Having absolutely no track record in this field (aside from designing the set for a Salsa musical at the Watford Palace in 1993) I w

http://www.pmwmusic.com