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ABOVE Young Women and Still Life

Simon Quadrat RWA

For thirty years, Simon Quadrat was a criminal barrister in London and Bristol. When not at work, he spent many hours painting and playing the piano. Since 2000, Simon has been painting his Still Lifes, urban landscapes, and imaginary narrative compositions full-time.

Since 2000 his work has been exhibited in one-man shows in London, Bristol, Bath, and Cambridge, and also in numerous group exhibitions, major London Art Fairs and at the RWA. In 2004, he was elected an Academician of the Royal West of England Academy and in early 2007 was invited to become its Academicians’ Chairman.' In this capacity he chaired the Exhibitions Committee, responsible for the major exhibitions in the main galleries at the RWA. He was elected President of the Royal West of England Academy in 2010.

He writes: I was born in London in 1946, the son of Jewish émigrés who separately fled Germany in the 1930s. At school I painted factories and desolate urban scenes. I read books on art and visited galleries, but I had no thought of becoming an artist. Instead, I read law at university and went on to a career as a criminal barrister in the Temple in London and then from 1985, in Bristol. In 2000 I succumbed to a strong urge to paint professionally and so gave up the Bar to become a full time artist. As for my work, the paintings must speak for themselves. The viewer will see themes, preoccupations and influences. Artists from the 14th century to the present are an acknowledged influence, in particular some of the Modern British and European painters from the immediate pre and post war period. Documentary films, as in the GPO Film Unit and Recording Britain, and archive photographs recording images and events of the 1950s, the period of my childhood in London, also all supplement my memory, feed my imagination and metamorphose into my painting.

“At first sight Simon Quadrat might seem to have pursued an entirely different artistic route to Michele Griffiths’; born in 1946, the self-taught son of Jewish émigrés and only finally taking up painting full-time some 10 years ago after a career as a criminal barrister, the still-life, street-scenes and conversation pieces that predominate throughout his work speaking of largely figurative, almost narrative concerns. And yet, the more you look into them the more you become aware of their painterly preoccupations, the dense, rich materiality of their surfaces, so it was with no real surprise to learn that for him, too, Prunella Clough has come to represent a hugely important exemplar, a thread by which the huge diversity of his artistic concerns and subject matter are held together in an entirely consistent voice. And what a range of interests they are, a lifetime of looking at paintings that started as a teenager in the National Gallery – Early Italian in particular, one suspects - and going on to encompass the Neo-Romanticism of Minton and Colquhoun and McBride, the industrial scenes and images of ordinary everyday life embodied in the paintings and photographs of the Mass Observation movement of the 1930s, the vivid, gritty imagery of the Free Cinema Movement of the 1950s among them. The outcome is paintings imbued with real emotional weight and substance by the quiet truthfulness of the marks and surfaces through which they are formed.”

Nicholas Usherwood, Features Editor Galleries Magazine

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