Anthony Whishaw RA: Downstream Flood

4 - 6 June 2021

Anthony Whishaw RA claims no association with any particular art movement, stating instead that ‘each painting and work on paper makes its own separate demands’.


His work deals with explorations of memory and experience. On the edge of representation, varying in intent, scale and depiction, it seeks to reconcile illusion and allusion, the abstract and the figurative, past and present pictorial languages to create unforeseen visual experiences.


Downstream Flood presents a group of works by Whishaw produced following a walk into his studio one rainy day. He became transfixed by the shifting patterns animating a puddle near the entrance, and quickly drew them in ink, creating a black and white sketch of the positive and negative shapes he had seen. This became the kernel of his water pictures. He has used this original drawing and photocopied variants again and again to create intricate collages of seascapes, streams, rivers and ponds. Short vertical lines such as those in Downstream Flood III (2004), provide points of orientation to guide our gaze across the flow of water which is at once both turbulent and mesmeric. 


Whishaw studied at Royal College of Art, from 1948 to 1952, alongside Bridget Riley and Frank Auerbach. Now in his nineties, he is still prolific, and has painted and worked in the same studio since the 1950s.


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