Surface Tensions

Brendan Neiland
14 December – 9 February 2018/19

This exhibition is a survey of fifty years of the paintings of Brendan Neiland, one of the leading artists of his generation. It consists of more than sixty paintings including works loaned from both private and public collections. This exhibition gives an opportunity for visitors to experience the breadth of Neiland’s oeuvre and its development over the years.

Born in 1941 Brendan Neiland was brought up in Birmingham where, after a sojourn at a seminary in Ireland, he attended art school. This exhibition’s earliest works are significant and rarely seen early drawings from his time at art school showing. They show his developing interest in the mechanical and the manmade for which he is now so well known. After studying in Birmingham he was accepted at the Royal College of Art. Here he began painting his subject matter with an airbrush, a method that he has used to this day.

The paintings shown come from four bodies of work spanning more than fifty years of Neiland’s production; cars, buildings, landscapes and signs. The works all capture his preoccupation with contemporary production, design and highly finished modern surfaces. His iconic car bonnet works from the seventies are a pivotal part of the exhibition and establish his on-running interest in surfaces, design and a celebration of technological progress.

The exhibition shows Neiland’s growth as an artist shifting form the shimmering colour fields of his car bonnets to the black grounds of the late neon works. The exhibition allows us to see how closely interrelated the works are through his longstanding interest in the tensions between surfaces portrayed and his immaculately rendered painterly finish.

The works are highly figurative, portraying instantly recognisable elements of our landscape and so have proved immensely popular over the decades not just with collectors but with a broad public.

As part of this exhibition Brendan Neiland will be developing and supporting a week of workshops for students and the wider community in the last week of January 2019. He will talk to students about his journey as an artist, create workshops that allow participants to better understand his techniques and work with families to allow children to make work in response to his.

The exhibition will celebrate one of the most significant artists working in Britain today and give an opportunity for new audiences on campus and beyond to engage with this extraordinary body of work.