The extraordinary art of Clive Hicks–Jenkins ranges from still–life paintings and meditations on Welsh landscape and architecture to powerful series of images incorporating elements of Welsh folklore and Christian iconography. The artist draws upon figures from ancient Celtic myth and 15th century Biblical art —angels, demons, and fearsome spectral mares — to explore the terrors and joys, the tragedies and epiphanies of modern life.
Clive Hicks–Jenkins was born in Newport, Wales in 1951, and grew up close to his family’s farming roots in Monmouthshire. He did not fit in at school, but found escape in acting with the Monmouthshire Young Peoples Theatre and studying dance at Rambert and the Italia Conti School in London. This led to a highly successful career on stage, first as an actor and dancer and then as a director and choreographer with such leading companies as the Vienna Festival, the Almeida Theatre, Theatr Clwyd and Cardiff New Theatre. He was also a stage designer and mask maker during these years, with a deepening interest in visual art. In the late 1980s, finding himself disillusioned with the unsettled life of the theater, Clive returned permanently to Wales to devote himself to art full–time. Since then, his paintings, drawings, prints, and artist books have been selected for the Royal Academy, the Royal West of England Academy, the University of Glamorgan Purchase Prize, the Wales Drawing Biennale and the National Eisteddfod, among others, and collected abroad by the New York Public Library, the University of Pennsylvania, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, and the Auckland City Library. Clive has had solo exhibitions at the Newport Museum & Art Gallery and the Brecknock Museum, the Museum of Modern Art Wales and Christ Church Picture Gallery in Oxford. He has been a member of the Welsh Group since 1997. He won the Gulbenkian Welsh Art Prize in 1999, a Creative Wales Award of the Arts Council of Wales in 2002, and was runner–up for the Welsh Artist of the Year in 2000.
"My work lies within a British tradition of landscape and abstraction," Clive writes, "re–interpreting concerns with place, form and history. My paintings, like my work as a stage designer and director, reflect a fascination with concealment, time and transformation. I draw inspiration particularly from the landscapes of Wales and the South West. Picasso once said of
painting, that it is 'a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange hostile world and us, a way of seizing the power by giving form to our terrors, as well as our desires'. It's as good a description of painting as any I know, and it expresses succinctly my own practice."