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Hugh Mendes

I have been painting images of newspaper clippings for about twenty years now. They came to prominence in my work following 9/11, the day of my MA graduation, when I showed a painting of Osama Bin Laden pointing a gun at a triumphant George Bush. It had been painted about a month previously in response to his contested election victory. The use of newspaper clippings provides a very flat spatial field, recalls certain trompe l’oile 17th century still life and can deal directly with contemporary issues such as cloning and terrorism. These are contemporary manifestations of the timeless themes of birth and death.


Recently I have been working on an ongoing, and never ending, series of obituaries. Obituaries condense a life into a few column inches and a single image – a scrap of newsprint that becomes a heavy token, a memento, even an icon, when rendered in paint. Within this series, I have most recently been working on a series of artist obituaries, using their self portraits as the image.


The act of painting and therefore sustained concentration brings a degree of focus and depth to what otherwise would be fleeting moments in the press.