Approved: 29.05.2013

John Brennan


Approved: 29.05.2013

1st prize winner of the 2015 ArtGemini Prize for painting.

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  • Location: Oxford, South East
  • Artforms: Painting
  • Tags: ambiguous, closeup, erotic, female, sinister, contemporary, hands, unexplained, figure, hazmat, industrial, magical, rocket, symbolic, series



    Artist Statement

    1st prize winner of the 2015 ArtGemini Prize for painting.

    Emotional and contextual contradiction underpins much of my painting. As an artist I’m fascinated by a subtle sensation that I’ve come to recognise and regard as a visual paranoia of sorts. It’s something I experience momentarily, sometimes in everyday life, but crucially when I happen upon a potential source image.

    It can manifest itself in a wide range of subject matter, the common denominator being a sense of the uncanny or enigmatic. It could be a landscape that feels both uplifting and menacing at the same time, a micro facial expression that reveals an underlying darkness, or a posture that implies both invitation and rejection. I find this tension compelling.

    I work from a mix of my own photographs, found images and video stills, either transcribed intact or altered to form new scenes. Through the painting process I gently heighten the qualities that first caught my attention.

    The imaginative growth of my childhood and early teenage years continues to shape my interests to the present day, influencing my choice of subject matter. This was a partly reclusive period, spent watching thought provoking television and worrying about nuclear war, whilst discovering an interest in post-apocalyptic fiction, military history, unexplained phenomena and the opposite sex.

    The result is an apparently disparate range of subjects, but in my own psyche these subjects are all connected and inhabit the same interior world.

    CV & Education

    b. 1966, Liverpool. Lived in London 1990 - 2009. Currently based in Oxfordshire.


    1985 – 1988, Liverpool Polytechnic, studied BA (hons) Graphic Design - Illustration
    1984 – 1985, Liverpool Polytechnic, studied Diploma Foundation Studies in Art & Design

    Group Exhibitions

    2015 - Bankley Open Call, Bankley Studios, Manchester
    2015 - Oxford Artweeks, Magdalen Road Studios, Oxford
    2015 - Beers Contemporary Visions V (shortlisted)
    2014 - Oxford Artweeks, Magdalen Road Studios, Oxford
    2014 - Royal Academy Summer Show (shortlisted)
    2014 - OX4 Magdalen Road Studios Artists, 03 Gallery, Oxford
    2013 - Bankley Open Call, Bankley Studios, Manchester
    2013 - HELP - Hollow Earth London Painters, SIX Space, Bournemouth
    2013 - Ludlow Open, Harley Centre, Ludlow
    2013 - Worcester Open, Worcester City Art Gallery, Worcester
    2013 - West Wharf No4, West Wharf Gallery, Cardiff
    2013 - Creekside Open, APT Gallery, London


    2015 - ArtGemini Prize, 1st prize winner (painting & sculpture), Menier Gallery, London
    2015 - Arte Laguna Prize, finalist, Italian Cultural Association MoCA, Arte Laguna Studio, Venice
    2014 - Threadneedle Prize, longlisted
    2013 - The National Open Art Competition, finalist, Royal College of Art, London. Minerva Theatre and Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
    2013 - Threadneedle Prize, longlisted
    2013 - Neo Art Prize, finalist, Neo:Gallery22, Manchester

    Publications, Press and Online

    2015 - The Oxford Times, artist profle interview by Sarah Mayhew Craddock
    2015 - Manifest International Painting Annual 5, Manifest Press
    2014 - The State of Art Representational and Abstract Volume 2, Bare Hill Publishing, ISBN 978-1-909825-14-7
    2013 - Hollow Earth London, video interviews produced by artist, Benjamin Bridges
    2013 - The State of Art Representational and Abstract Volume 1, Bare Hill Publishing, ISBN 978-1-909825-01-7


    2013 - Artist’s talk with Matt Roberts Arts | Hornsey Library, London. Organised by gallerist and curator, Matt Roberts