Guy Denning

Guy Denning (born 1965) is a self taught English contemporary artist and painter based in France He is the founder of the Neomodern group and part of the urban art scene in Bristol

Guy Denning was born in Somerset, England in October 1965 Prior to his commercial success in art he worked full-time on top of his painting at weekends and at night He had a series of jobs, working as a roofer, general labourer, shop assistant, and pathology lab worker He was also a political and trade union activist In 2007 he moved to Brittany, France

Guy Denning is a self-taught painter He says that he was drawing from childhood and that was where his competency came from “I did little but draw and read – I certainly didn’t mix with other kids First oil paintings were done at age 10 or 11 after my dad gave me a set of oil paints that he’d got bored with (a passing hobby in his 30s) I was hooked from the start”

He applied to study at several art colleges during the 1980s but was refused entry He continued his art education by studying Art History and getting a degree in the subject with The Open University

Denning’s early work included an interest in the work of Franz Kline and was characterised by powerful, expressive brushstrokes in mainly abstract paintings More recently he has combined earlier influences with an increasingly figurative style of painting The human figure features strongly in his latest work and he uses this subject matter to convey powerful emotions, often with political overtones The Icarus series of works is an example of this approach Structurally his work is very dynamic showing a concern for strong draughtsmanship with a spontaneous application of colour He does not always work to set motifs, but sometimes makes paintings and drawings from observation and photographic reference He has stated that his work has been significantly informed by the subject of war “When I was about 11 or 12 I came to France with my parents and they took me to the war cemetery at Verdun It was the most significant thing that ever happened to me”

His paintings have been shown in many solo and mixed exhibitions Notable solo shows include ‘Purgatorio’ at Brooklynite, New York; ‘Inferno’ at MAGI’900, Bologna and ‘Behemoth’ at St Martin in the Fields, London His work is held in several important public collections, including the Politics Department of Bristol University, the Political Science Department at Galway University and the MAGI’900 Museum of Contemporary Art, Bologna

From 1992, he has exhibited across Britain Since 2007 he has exhibited also in the United States of America, Spain, Germany, Italy and France

In 1997, he founded the neomodern group His work appeared in the Triumph of Stuckism exhibition at Liverpool John Moores University as part of the 2006 Liverpool Biennial

In 2007, he joined Red Propeller Gallery His first solo show with Red Propeller Gallery featured paintings connected to the 9/11 terrorist attack Although created at the time of this atrocity, a period of time was needed to elapse before the public were ready to revisit this trauma and Denning timed this to perfection as the discussion created from this show led to it being completely sold out propelled him into the mainstream art scene In February 2008, he sold two works in Bonhams Urban Art auction in New Bond Street with one painting achieving £9,600

Also in 2007 there was a studio fire at his new home in France in which Denning lost 20 years of accumulated work

Denning held a trio of international exhibitions in 2011/12 showcasing paintings interpreting Dante’s Divine Comedy The paintings examined Britain’s failings and political problems

In 2017 the largest exhibition of Denning’s work to date was held at Hartlepool Art Gallery

Denning’s work has been noted for powerful and expressive brush strokes as well as cutting and making rough repairs to the canvas He also sometimes uses stencils and collaged text He has made significant use of gold-leaf in his drawings He frequently draws on cardboard packaging and old newspapers

Denning’s street work is political rather than decorative He works with aerosol stencilled text and drawing and also pastes up his drawings In the 1980s he made street art inspired by the punk bands CRASS and Poison Girls and the artist Gee Vaucher In 2013 he was one of the artists invited to participate in the Tour Paris 13 urban art project