Artist Spotlight: Graham Dean

Artist Spotlight: Graham Dean

Artist Spotlight: Graham Dean 

Graham Dean, a British painter born in Birkenhead in 1951, has carved out a distinctive niche in the  contemporary art scene. Educated at the Laird School of Art and Bristol Polytechnic’s Faculty of  Art and Design, Dean has been practicing for over five decades, a career marked by innovation and emotional depth. He splits his time between Brighton, England, and Umbria, Italy, continuing to  evolve his unique style and methodology. 

“I really do aim for a “feel”, an elusive quality whereby the viewer can project their own thoughts  and feelings towards any given work.” Graham Dean, Interviewed by K. Kieun


Dean’s work is renowned for its emotional resonance and psychological depth, often using the  human body as a canvas to explore complex narratives. His technique, which he describes as  "reverse archaeology," transforms the conventional use of watercolor, layering and reassembling  compositions in a collage-like manner to create raw, immediate, and deeply moving pieces. This  approach not only revolutionizes watercolor painting but also imbues his work with a unique texture  and organic quality, particularly when executed on handmade Indian paper. 



Inspired by psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich’s theory of "muscular armor," Dean views the physical  body as an expression of personality and a repository of emotion. His otherworldly portraits,  featuring a diverse range of sitters, are characterized by soft, bleeding edges that evoke intangible  elements like atmosphere, aura, and emotion. These techniques have drawn comparisons to  contemporary painters such as Peter Doig and Marlene Dumas, highlighting Dean's ability to bridge  the personal and universal through his art. 

Dean’s extensive exhibition portfolio includes over 50 solo shows and several hundred mixed exhibitions worldwide. His paintings are housed in numerous public and private collections,  reflecting his significant influence on art enthusiasts, critics, and budding artists. Honors such as the  Senior Abbey Award in Rome (1992) and the International Fellowship Award at the Vermont Studio  Centre (2003) further attest to his impact and recognition in the art community. 



“About five months ago someone posted my ‘Close-Up Kiss’ painting from 1988 on their Tumblr page. It has now been re-posted on other people's pages 50,028 times. I guess that is near to being classed as viral. Most of my other paintings are into the thousands but nowhere near this number.” Graham Dean, 2023 (Journal entry)


The recurring theme in Dean's work is identity—physical, spiritual, and psychological. He believes in the concept of the "thinking body," using the human form to convey profound ideas and emotions. His art often mirrors broader societal issues, addressing themes like acceptance, equality, beauty, and the societal constructs that define us. In addition to his technical mastery, the power of Dean's art lies in the narratives it portrays. Each piece is a testament to his ability to evoke deep and often somber emotions, connecting body and soul through clear, crisp colors like red and  yellow. His works are available in various formats, including canvas and framed prints, allowing a  broader audience to engage with the profound emotional landscapes he creates. Graham Dean stands as a pivotal figure in contemporary art, his innovative techniques and powerful  narratives continuing to inspire and influence the global art community.



Bridgeman Editions are excited to present three prints within Graham Dean’s collection, 'Small Echo, 2004', 'Diver, 2011 (2005) and 'Close-up Kiss, (1988). These archival digital prints on Hahnemühle German etching paper are authorized and  certified by Graham Dean.

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