Ray Atkins (1937 – )
Ray Atkins was born Exeter, Devon in 1937. He studied at Bromley College of Art, between 1954-1956 and again from 1958-1961. While studying as a postgraduate student at the Slade School of Fine Art (1961-64), Atkins worked in Frank Auerbach’s studio, an artist he greatly admired.
Whilst continuing to develop his practice, he taught part-time at several colleges such as Bournemouth College of Art, Reading University, Falmouth School of Art and Epsom School of Art and in 1970 he had a solo show at Piers Morris Gallery. This launched a series of shows throughout Britain and he has been shown regularly since. He moved to Cornwall in 1974 which had a direct influence on his work, and in 1996 a retrospective was shown at Royal West of England Academy complemented by a solo show at The Art Space Gallery in London. The retrospective included paintings from his 1960s period in London, characterized by a gloomy and dark atmosphere, until his Cornish mature paintings where he developed a method of working on large scale from direct observation of the landscape and where the works were left on site until completed.
He still lives and works in Cornwall, and is represented by the Art Space Gallery in London.
Buckman D., (2006), Artists in Britain since 1945, Vol 2, Art Dictionaries Ltd, Bristol
Landscape is one of the principle genres of Western art. In early paintings the landscape was a backdrop for the composition, but in the late 17th Century the appreciation of nature for its own sake began with the French and Dutch painters (from whom the term derived). Their treatment of the landscape differed: the French tried to evoke the classical landscape of ancient Greece and Rome in a highly stylised and artificial manner; the Dutch tried to paint the surrounding fields, woods and plains in a more realistic way. As a genre, landscape grew increasing popular, and by the 19th Century had moved away from a classical rendition to a more realistic view of the natural world. Two of the greatest British landscape artists of that time were John Constable and JMW Turner, whose works can be seen in the Tate collection (www.tate.org.uk). There can be no doubt that the evolution of landscape painting played a decisive role in the development of Modernism, culminating in the work of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists . Since then its demise has often been predicted and with the rise of abstraction, landscape painting was thought to have degenerated into an amateur pursuit. However, landscape persisted in some form into high abstraction, and has been a recurrent a theme in most of the significant tendencies of the 20th Century. Now manifest in many media, landscape no longer addresses solely the depiction of topography, but encompasses issues of social, environmental and political concern.