A Note From the Collector
Ken Paine; born in Lambeth, London in 1926.
When I first met Ken Paine at the Mall Galleries in 1984 my initial impression was that he resembled one of the tramps who had provided him with so much material through the years. Yet his unshaven and often unkempt appearance is deceiving. He is a highly intelligent and observant man, visually articulate, who can see through you with a glance and translate his impression on to canvas. Knowing him now as I do, I understand that what fascinates him is not so much the physical features of the sitter but more the soul that penetrates those features. The tramp's constant struggle for alcohol, food and warmth; the jazz musician baring his emotions through his instrument; the old lady's wisdom and cynicism; the inner loneliness or frustrations that torment so many of his sitters and are evident in his own self portraits; all are depicted in a style that is both energetic and sensitive. There is nothing contrived or commercial about his work. Unlocking hidden emotions and depicting pathos do not always produce a portrait the sitter approves, but honestly rather than flattery has always been his aim. He has spent his whole life ignoring the changing fashions of a fickle art market and has never been concerned by fame or financial gain. He paints because he is drawn by a need to paint. It is all that matters to him. Ken Paine has achieved recognition as an outstanding portrait painter both in England and France, despite himself rather than through self-promotion.
In this exhibition I would like his work to speak for itself. I am not an art critic - just a friend who feels it is time that the beauty of his haunting portraits and the exciting, if unconventional, life he has led are brought to the attention of a wider audience. I would like to thank the Abbaye de Flaran for mounting this exhibition and for giving the public the opportunity to view the work of Ken Paine.
Michael Simonow, 2012
Born 1925, Lambeth, London, studied at Tickenham College of Art and later worked with the painter R. O. Dunlop RA. He is a member of the Pastel Society and Vice President of the Société des Pastellistes de France. Awards include: 1982; Daler Rowney (Main Award) Pastel Society; 1987 1st Prize, International Pastel Exhibition, France; 1989 Master Pastelliste of Société des Pastellistes ; 1990 W. H. Patterson Award, Pastel Society Exhibition.
After travelling extensively for several years, the artist settled in the United States. It was during this time that he further developed his interest in portraiture and of the character studies, which have become his life's work. He travelled all around the States, painting people from all walks of life, before returning to England to set up his studio.
Since 1962 the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Pastel Society have exhibited his work and his commissions have included many dignitaries and celebrities. Ken Paine works in all media, but pastel is the medium for which he is best known. His work leans towards the romantic and shows genuine pathos without being sentimental. The vitality, which he reveals in a portrait, can be awe-inspiring. The artist's empathy with his subjects produces a quite unique artistic result, which is admired worldwide.