Stevenson’s work has always been figurative in one way or another. He humorously recounted how his interest in the female form began when his mother gave him a book of studies of faces and figures at the age of seven while he was a student at a Catholic Boys School. That ended in disaster and a huge shock for all when the young Stevenson was asked to present an exhibition for his teachers and student cohort, which ended up in part comprised of female nudes he had sketched.
Inspired by the work of artist Raymond Ching, Stevenson originally began his artistic career painting wildlife.
He has always had a love of nature, particularly birds, and in 1988 he undertook a commission to produce all of the art for the book The Atlas of Parrots, one of the largest such books in the world.
The book is on display in the New York, Paris and London Natural History Museums.
Chatting with Stevenson about the need to sometimes reinvent oneself at different stages of life, and about friends who have been diagnosed with devastating illnesses, it is evident just how much he loves and values life, also thematically evident in the beauty of these works.
The female nudes on show are erotic, but neither challenging nor distasteful. His paintings of animals, most endangered, highlight the animals’ strength and grace.
Geometric shapes and straight lines intersect and complement, but never clash with, the fluid, curved lines and asymmetry of natural forms.
Blocks and stripes of white serve to highlight, but not overshadow, rich swatches of colour. Patterned backgrounds hint at the influence of cultures worldwide.
Stevenson has travelled extensively throughout his life, and the use of gold leaf and deep, rich tones evoke imagery of Africa, India and south-east Asia.
The Attitude Of Colour runs until 17 December, and Red Hill Gallery is open 7 days.
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