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Paul Kavanagh's Biography

Paul Kavanagh - Mr Moustache

During the 1970s and 1980s I developed successful relationships with two galleries in Kent which led to a range or commissions including producing series of paintings for Thomas Howell Kiewit in London, C.T.I in Dusseldorf, and for a firm of New York loss adjusters. Throughout this period too I exhibited frequently at several shows; and then by the 1990s I began to exhibit exclusively at The Linda Blackstone Gallery. With this gallery paintings have been shown successfully at several art fairs including those at Manchester, Dublin and Chelsea over the last year, and in September I will be exhibiting at an invitation only show at Cannes. Recently Washington Green approached me with a view to publishing some of my paintings.

More than anything else it seems itís the tangle of human relationships that sets ideas going. Couples: talking, smiling together, being absorbed in themselves, kissing, enjoying their own company. Moods vary but generally ideas are optimistic, the future is bright, resolutions will be found. Narrative is often an intrinsic part of the picture, the paintings tell a story, a fragment of a scene leaving the viewer to continue the trace alone. And within these narratives women are frequently the most important.

Equally important and equally inspiring is the background against which the paintings evolve. Paris, with its distinctive cityscape of cafe and boulevard, provides a kind of close up setting where fragments of buildings, and the light within them, help create a particular atmosphere: a half lit brasserie, seen from rain-soaked streets, twilight times of darkening shadow and reflection. Itís a reflection of my long lived love affair with the city of artists.

I travel frequently to Paris. I wander, look and take photographs in the same way one might sketch - people, buildings, facades etc. These photos will act as reference points and may be points of departure for paintings. The paintings are a jumble of ideas: a mix of my photographs, pictures I might see in magazines, film stills etc, "stuff" I''ve gathered over the years. Some paintings are planned, most evolve. Once up and running the picture can take anything from a few days to two or three weeks. I generally work from a restricted palette: titanium white, Prussian blue, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, burnt umber or Van Dyke brown and yellow ochre.

Preliminary drawing is done in paint on a darkened canvas. Areas of the painting are worked until I am satisfied; I don''t work on all areas at once. If a figure is the dominant subject of the picture then that will be painted first, and the background painted round it. If the subject is the setting, the figure, or figures will enter last. Once I''m finished I seldom go back to a picture to re-work it, although one mustn''t confused finished with satisfied. Most artists are rarely satisfied with their work.

I divide my time professionally working as a painter and as a free-lance lecturer at The National Gallery. Sometimes my National Gallery work allows me some time for painting but the most fruitful time for working in the studio is when I have a completely clear day. I work best in the mornings and like to start early if I can working through to about 5pm. On good days when ideas flow and the technical end of the business is painless this is sheer bliss, at other times one despairs and feels like making a bonfire of brushes, paints and canvas! However, the whole process of making pictures is obsessive and the need to resolve problems and get the picture one is after is a very dominant drive.

To achieve it I like to be alone, I will have music on - and that''s very important - but find as the time passes I''ve actually heard very little of it. Having my studio some 20minutes away from home means I''m forced to leave the work behind each day - which on balance is probably a good thing otherwise I''d probably be painting into the night. Another advantage of being away from the work - I can''t wait to get back to it!

Paul Kavanagh's Artwork

The Lingering Embrace
by Paul Kavanagh
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It Was Starting To Drizzle
by Paul Kavanagh
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Mr Moustache
by Paul Kavanagh
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