DENISE EVANS A Retrospective



Denise is a fine artist from London. She studied at the Byam Shaw School of Fine Art in Kensington, London and achieved her PhD at the world renowned Slade School of Fine Arts, at the University College London, England in 1990. Her works have gained her awards for excellence and been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Oxford England. She moved to the United States 1997.


At the heart of her work is a concern for the internal, giving visual language for the psyche of the soul. Never shying about from the autobiographical instead using it as a well to draw from. Without question the strength of her drawing is breathtaking and is a foundation to her art and expression. Even when her work spills over into words her creative voice remains true and they do not go unnoticed as the art critic Tony Godrey wrote:


"This is an extraordinary piece of work. It is one of the best attempts to provide an equivalent to different levels of experience - verbal and visual, confessional, anecdotal and speculative - I have read.”


This retrospective represents over 30 years of her works and the periods the artist has traveled.

I was born in the working class East-End of London, I’ve been painting my entire life, at 17 I was accepted at my first art school and at 26 I completed my PhD at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. At the heart of my artwork is the autobiographical, by drawing from my own personal experiences in life with soul baring honesty, I hope to reveal in my artwork essential truths which unite us. A connection which is real.


My passion are my lines and their movement and my materials for all they are in their essence and all they give to me. I often venture from the boundaries of conventional media and some of my works employ the services of metals; gold, copper and iron for their individual truths in what they are. Gold for it's purity, copper for its strength to weather great storms and to protect that which is internal, and iron for it's beauty as it decays.


When I begin a piece I never know where it is going to go; it takes me. I only know the feel of the mediums I need in embrace in my hand, be it a graphite pencil or a piece of pastel or a brush full of oil paint with all the smells that go with it. It is love that I have with whatever I hold in my hand and a trust it knows where it is going because I surely do not. That trust has never forsaken me.

Invisible Woman

Oil, earth pigments and copper on Irish linen

My artworks give vision to the silent internal journey we go on as we deal with the realities of our lives, realities above that can form scars below. This journey has led me to explore different forms of mediums to better express what lays below. In some work the weathering of iron particles on my surfaces communicate change and the irreversible nature of decay. A surface which should be ugly becomes one of beauty when seen in a different way.


A watercolor scarred with encrusted rust haloed by copper


The raised surface of rust.

Preservation is a photographic installation, the installation consists of thirteen large photographic self-portraits, which have been treated with iron filings and water to create scarring and encrustations of rust on their surfaces. This has left some of the images barely readable as portraits. The photographs are suspended between floor and ceiling on wire ropes.


A complementary series of thirteen smaller photographs are bound into a copper and leather book, which is placed within the installation for handling by the viewer. These photographs have been treated similarly with rust, which comes off onto the hands of the reader. The warmth and intimacy of the book contrasts with the brittle, fragile and distancing quality of the larger photographs.


At the heart of the piece is a concern with silence and pain. The images illustrate a process of scarring and decay, of loss of recognition and the irrevocable nature of damage.


Preservation was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art Oxford, England (MOMA).

Preservation Glass Installation

Suspended photographic portraits treated with iron

Preservation Copper Book

13" x 17"

Photographic self-portraits distressed by iron are preserved within a handmade book with a cover made of solid sheets of copper bound by leather. Below: the distressed photographic portraits become the leaves of the book, their text punched through from behind to be seen in reverse.

 Above: the distressed photographic portraits become the leaves of the book, their text punched through from behind to be seen in reverse.

It matters to me the surfaces, mediums and materials I use in my artwork and their properties, Preservation (a multi-media photographic installation and copper book shown at the Museum of Modern Art) used rusted photographic self-portraits and sheets of glass to give mirror like reflections in the artwork. A work that challenged the viewer to look beyond their own reflection to see deeper at the destruction that can occur in our lives. Rust leaving behind channels of decay as a witness to exposure that once occurred.


Oil painting with iron, copper, and mica on Irish linen

5' x 4' x 6" depth

My paintings too are not spared from my obvious distress, the metals iron and copper exist beside a metal that does not corrode, one that expresses value; gold. Raw earth pigments in their natural form are used along with mica that glints on linen surfaces. I like using gold and mica, there is always value and insight to be gained after going through a journey of decay. Experiences do not leave us empty, quite the opposite they leave behind wisdoms that could never have been gleamed before such destruction, before such decay.


Above detail of the rust and shard copper pieces.


Above is a detail of the mica flashes within the titanium white oil paint ridges

Resurrections frame


The above detail illustrates the depth of Resurrections wooden frame which I made 6" deep, a unique depth to be stretched over with my favorite gentle but deceptively strong surface: Irish linen. I cannot imagine throughout my life of using a better surface for my paintings than Irish linen. It's an unforgiving surface at its beginning, it needs a gentle and tender touch to become strong. Nothing can go wrong when stretching Irish linen if it's going to hold not just traditional mediums such as oils, but also my destructive mediums like the dust partials of iron, which bites through as the decaying of rust develops. The argument between fragility and destruction is not unlike living our own lives: we are gentle and along comes life to decay us. Does it leave us destroyed? Or leave behind the ugliest of scars that those who know the journey find beautiful?


Mine Heart is another painting which uses mica and in Mine Heart it is used beside gold: a metal which doesn't lose value. The slight green to the canvas is copper particles turned to verdigris: a metal of protection of that which it holds within, a church roof knows that protection.

Mine Heart

Oil painting with copper, gold leaf, and mica flakes on Irish linen and below a closer look

4' x 3' x 1.5" depth


And still true to my very core is my love of drawing; it is the beginning of everything of every idea. And there too my materials matter, is a pencil enough to take lines meant for charcoal? Does what I hold in my hand have the ability to flow and capture my minds eye and at its perfected speed?

Tornado Dream (detail)


A closer look shows the pencil lines depth as it has penetrated the paper around the eyes, and the closer look also shows the speed of the lines which form the tornado

Rest in Peace

Charcoal on Paper.

Rest in Peace


The closer detail illustrated how wonderful charcoal is at capturing the flick of the wrist and the blackness it leaves behind. As with most drawing and especially charcoal there is only one chance to make that mark and make an impression that stays. For me the mark of the right eye, that one mark suggests the kindness that is given: it took just one mark for that to be true.

Mother and Child

Pen and ink on paper


Like charcoal pen and ink is a medium where first impressions count as they leave their mark. Pen and ink also show the speed of a line and its depth caused by pressure from the hand. And in pen and ink there is starkness and there is clarity.

Mother and Child (detail)

Museum Quality Fine Art Prints


Archival Fine Art Prints


When I was approached and asked to allow some of my artworks to be reproduced as fine art prints I was unsure and doubted they could be faithful to my originals. I take care in the creation of my art, everything matters right down to the surfaces I create on. With the advances over the years of inks and technology I was proven wrong, they could be reproduced faithfully to my originals and with the quality and standard I demand of my work; in that they should be worthy of museums and with an archival value I hold my work up to.


Within the gallery store only artworks I deem suitable and remain faithful to their originals are chosen by me to be reproduced.


- Denise -

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To Dream

Archival Fine Art Giclée Print


The King & Queen of England visiting war torn East London after the Blitz


My grandmother who raised me lived through the Blitz on East London and that history was a shadow on our lives. The rationing of food she endured raising children during the war made her joyful and thankful she was able to spoil us with fresh fruit and veg. To us a simple pleasure but to her food fit for a king.


History of the East End


The East End of London, also known simply as the East End, is an area of Central, East London and London Docklands, England; east of the Roman and medieval walls of the City of London, and north of the River Thames. The East End is the historic core of wider East London but is not defined by any universally accepted boundaries, though the various channels of the River Lea are often considered to be the eastern boundary.


The East End's emergence began in the Middle Ages with initially slow urban growth outside the eastern walls, which subsequently accelerated, especially in the 19th century, to absorb preexisting settlements.


The first known written record of the East End as a distinct entity, as opposed its component parts, comes from John Strype's 1720 'Survey of London', where he describes London as consisting of four parts: the City of London, Westminster, Southwark, and "That Part beyond the Tower".


The relevance of Strype's reference to the Tower was more than geographical. The East End was the major part of an area called the Tower Division, which owed military service to the Tower of London. Later, as the East End grew and the Tower Division contracted, the East End became, arguably, conterminous with the Tower Division.


The area was notorious for its deep poverty, overcrowding and associated social problems. This has led to the East End’s history of intense political activism and association with some of the country’s most influential social reformers.

Another major theme of East End history has been that of migration; both inward and outward. The area had a strong pull on the rural poor from other parts of England and attracted waves of migration from further afield: notably Huguenot refugees, who created a new extramural suburb in Spitalfields in the 17th century.


The closure of the last of the East End docks in the Port of London in 1980 created further challenges and led to attempts at regeneration and the formation of the London Docklands Development Corporation. The Canary Wharf development, improved infrastructure, and the Olympic Park mean that the East End is undergoing further change, but some parts continue to contain some of the worst poverty in Britain.

Source: Wikipedia


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Denise Evans is a fine artist from London now living in the Midwest. She has been creating for more than 30 years. Her works have been shown at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and are held within private collections in the United State and Europe.



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