I was born in Wales and was a student at Cardiff College of Art. I came to London on a Mellon Foundation Scholarship for post graduate study under Morris de Sausmarez at Byam Shaw School of Art and have lived and worked here ever since.
My work is held in many private and public collections including The Government Art Collection, The Arts Council of Great Britain, The National Museums and Galleries of Wales, The National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside and Leicestershire Education Authority. My painting has been shown in many important group exhibitions, The British Art Show, Narrative Paintings, Hayward Annual, The John Moores Liverpool Exhibition and Threadneedle Prize Exhibition and London Group exhibitions. I have had several one man shows in London, Wales and Scotland. I have been awarded a GLAA Visual Arts Award and The Lorne Award and was a main prize winner of the Jerwood Drawing Prize.
Prior to retiring in 2009, I taught at several leading art colleges including The Royal College of Art, Royal Academy Schools, Byam Shaw School of Art (where I was Head of Painting) and The Verrocchio Art Centre in Italy.
My Paintings are figurative paintings, the imagery personal and imaginatively realised; they concern the present though the past is inevitably there too. Although my painting territory is clearly mapped out I can never see the whole painting at the start – it has to grow, find its rhythm and pace, find itself*.
It seems my paintings have always dwelt on the subject of journeys, ritual and myth which has involved using highly theatrical imagery and a degree of distortion to emphasize the dramatic and declamatory nature of the narratives**. Matthew Collings likened the earlier paintings to “humorous puppet shows – Mr Punch meets Molloy”. In time, however, I came to feel confined by the overwhelming greyness and suppressed palette where fragmented figures became embedded and sometimes trapped in the narrow grey space. Many years and transformations later colour, as a symbolic, expressive and poetic force, became a decisive element, revealing and defining the territory in a different, more luminous light, at the same time transforming the whole experience of painting.
My painting is sustained and enlarged by what I continue to absorb from looking at and learning from other paintings. There are artists who remain necessary company throughout life; Picasso continues to cast a long shadow and Giotto’s frescoes in the Arena Chapel in Padua are also like that, a well that never dries up. These paintings have a humanity and imaginative purpose that always thrill and move, creating the urgent and abiding need to paint the human story, triumphant, tragic and comic. In particular, the line that reaches down through time from Giotto to Carra, Sironi and Cucchi has been important in inspiring a sense of purpose and direction, an enduring experience that holds true to the present day.
*”We learn to see what flows beneath. We learn the prehistory of the visible. We learn to dig deep and lay bare.” Paul Klee
**”Like Science and technology, mythology is not about opting out of the world but about living more intensely within it.” Karen Armstrong: ‘A Short History of Myth’.
My own preoccupation with the Oresteaia, a 5th century BC Greek tragedy, is rooted in my belief that myths are fluid and adaptable. I think the trilogy continues to have relevance for our lives today and, significantly, is still performed thorugh out the world.
The following text which recently appeared in Argo, serves as a brief introduction to my own involvement with this enduring trilogy.
click here to dlownload a pdf version of the article
Bob Doran is a journalist and writer: he studied classics at Kings College London and worked for many years as a news editor at the BBC.
First published in ARGO: A Hellenic Review, a publication of the Hellenic Society, issue 10, Autumn/Winter 2019