Artist Spotlight - Annie Kevans

Artist Spotlight - Annie Kevans

Annie Kevans

Art has always been a part of Annie Kevans’ life. She was born in Cannes, France, to British parents who moved to the south of France, inspired by the beautiful landscapes of impressionist paintings. Although both her parents had briefly explored art in their youth, Kevans grew up discouraged from pursuing art as a career, for fear of lack of financial stability. 


After studying modern languages, Kevans lived in Barcelona, teaching English. When she returned to London, she took an art class, where she was encouraged by a teacher to finally apply to art school. 


“I remember the feeling of absolute joy when I finally began my Foundation course at Central Saint Martins,” Kevans told University of the Arts London in 2014. “I knew then there was no turning back.”


Today, Kevans is most known for her recognizable portraits, or as she calls them, “anti-portraits”. Rather than serving as accurate representations of a person, her portraits are concept driven, based on alternative histories and their relation to contemporary issues. 


“Kevans’ paintings reflect her interests in power, manipulation and the role of the individual in inherited belief systems,” writes Ben Street on Kevans’ website.  


One of Kevans’ most notable works is her 2013 series, ‘Boys,’ a group of portraits of various dictators as children. The series, part of the Saatchi gallery collection in London, is particularly striking given the innocent appearance of the boys. As Street describes, “colour is washed-out and delicate, the brush applied like the tender touch of a loved one.” Nevertheless, titles such as ‘Hitler, Germany’ or ‘Mao Zedong, China,’ make the series particularly jarring. 


Kevans’ work continues to ask tough questions, exploring highly socially relevant themes such as power structures and gender inequality. Some of her other series include ‘Girls,’ an exploration of the commodification of girls in pop culture, and ‘Collaborators,’ which depicts different famous Nazi sympathisers, such as Louis Vuitton and Coco Chanel.


Kevans’ painting, Frida Kahlo, from her 2014 series, ‘The History of Art,’ is now available for purchase as a limited edition print from Bridgeman Editions in celebration of International Women’s Day.


According to the Fine Art Society, Kevans’ series “centres on women in art history who were once part of the art world and whose history and significance have been gradually eroded so they are ultimately forgotten to a modern audience.” Along with the great Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Kevans has painted lesser known figures such as Gabrielle Capet, Edmonia Lewis, and Dorothea Tanning.

“There were brilliant female artists who were international celebrities with fantastic careers and exciting lives,” Kevans said of the series in an interview with University of the Arts, London. “Where are the books and films about these women? Why are they separate from art history and relegated to a genre of their own?”

Find out more about Frida Kahlo by Annie Kevans by visiting our artist's page. 

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.