Selected works by Annie Kevans

Annie Kevans
Adolf Hitler, Germany

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans’ paintings depict an ideal of innocence – the doe-eyed, rosy-cheeked faces of young boys – in a palette and handling that are carefully chosen: colour is washed-out and delicate, the brush applied like the tender touch of a loved one. Yet the titles come as a shock: Joseph Stalin, Soviet Union. Adolf Hitler, Germany. Mao Zedong, China. These are the faces (some actual, some invented) of dictators as children.
Annie Kevans
Alexander Lukashenka, Belarus

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Their titles are premonitions: that child’s face isn’t “Adolf Hitler”, obviously; none of these children are Hitler, or Stalin, or Mao yet. The disjunction – what we know now, what we didn’t know then – calls the mind the old argument about going back in time to kill Hitler; but his soulful blue eyes brim with innocence: even Hitler was a child once. Kevans plays on our weakness for the apparent innocence of the young face, drawing on the Victorian idealisation of childhood still very much in vogue when many of these men were young. Those eyes – invariably the darkest, most substantial part of each painting – draw sympathy in a way a cartoon cat on a greetings card might; there’s a kitschy sentimentality to the paintings that runs deliberately at odds with their titles. Those dark eyes hold the viewer in place. Frozen like this, these children might never amount to anything.
Annie Kevans
Alfredo Stroessner, Paraguay

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Ante Pavelic, Croatia

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Benito Mussolini, Italy

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Efrain Rios Montt, Guatemala

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Ferdinand Marcos, Philippines

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Francisco Franco, Spain

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Francois Duvalier, Haiti

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Hendrik Verwoerd, South Africa

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Hissene Habre, Chad

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Hugo Banzer, Bolivia

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Humberto Branco, Brazil

2004

Oil on paper

50 x 40 cm
Annie Kevans
Idi Amin, Uganda

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Ion Antonescu, Romania

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Jean-Claude Duvalier, Haiti

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Jorge Rafael Videla, Argentina

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Joseph Stalin, Soviet Union

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Kim II Sung, North Korea

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Mao Zedong, China

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Mohamed Suharto, Indonesia

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Ne Win, Burma

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Ngo Dinh Diem, Vietnam

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Pol Pot, Cambodia

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Radovan Karadzic, Serbia

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Saddam Hussein, Iraq

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Annie Kevans
Yasuhiko Asaka, Japan

2004

Oil on paper

51 x 41 cm
Text by Ben Street

Articles

LAURA K JONES ON ANNIE KEVANS, PORTOBELLO ROAD, LONDON


It's not as if painter Annie Kevans was suffering from a lack of interest in those devastatingly spare and downy portraits she paints - her entire St Martins' BA show was famously bought up in one job lot three years ago and she has attracted ongoing further attention not least as a star of 'Anticipation', the central London group show that attracted so much notice last week.

But it looks like her recent solo exhibition of new works has pretty much cemented the rise to stardom. 'Swans' opened last Thursday in Portobello Road. Its curator, the ubiquitous Flora Fairbairn, told me that it "went really well and pretty much sold out - including lots of paintings that we had in the store room that weren't in the show. Annie did so well that she's resigned from her job as a secretary!" This is true; Kevans, a relatively late starter who enrolled at St Martins for her BA in Painting when she was 24, could finally resign from her part-time pay-the-rent job thanks to the backing of Fairbairn's ArtWork Productions and this sell out show.

'Swans' is inspired by the reality TV show in America of the same name, whose producers creepily took it upon themselves to remodel and revamp plain young girls, or 'Ugly Ducklings,' into surgically enhanced, aesthetically acceptable 'Swans'. What perturbs Kevans most about this so-called transformation is that the people who take part actually believe that it's a radical step they are taking, that it will help them feel better, whereas really she sees "the startlingly identical clones that emerge as only the ugly progeny of Society's apparent obsession with youth and beauty".

Obsessed with the notion of self-invention, particularly as it manifests itself in America, Kevans has followed this ideal of the American Dream by researching many real life stories of children who have found themselves (or put themselves) in an adult world.

The centrepiece of this current body of work is a startlingly sad oil on paper portrait of an exhausted looking Jessica Dubroff, a seven-year old pilot who, encouraged by her parents to become the youngest person to achieve a solo-flight across the Atlantic, tragically plunged to her death mid-flight. Her death, along with that of her passengers, was watched and filmed by a rash of camera crews and journalists who had gathered for the spectacle. "Ironically", says Kevans, "Jessica made headline news not for a record-breaking flight, but for her untimely death."

Read the entire article here
Source: saatchigallery.com/blogon