Biography

Roy Oxlade (b. 1929, London, UK; d. 2014, Kent, UK), played a critical role in the history of twentieth-century British art. Having initially come to attention in the 1950s, he worked across six decades producing paintings and works on paper that were rooted by his experiences of the physical world around him. ‘The artist has to in some way defeat the inevitable,’ he commented. ‘I want authenticity, clarity and a certain peculiarity’. Oxlade’s work is inextricably entwined with his home and studio in Kent, which formed the foundation of his pictures. Articulated by recurrent motifs - scissors, jugs, lemons, lamps - selected for their aesthetic and functional qualities, domesticity and ritual are central to his oeuvre. The artist’s wife, fellow painter Rose Wylie, also appears regularly in his pictures, in her role as lifelong muse. ‘Roy’s painting depended on personal imagery,’ she remarked. ‘He was very careful when selecting objects’.

Read more

Oxlade’s creative process was fuelled by instinct and immediacy – qualities that stood in opposition to what the artist termed ‘the artiness of art’. Although himself a prolific and hugely influential art educator, renowned for the summer schools he taught in Sittingbourne, Kent, Oxlade was wary of the ‘baggage of learning how to do things’. For him, the future of art meant going back to basics – of returning to ‘primitivism’. Drawing was a critical tool; he referred to the medium as the essence of his practice.

Creating clarity on the canvas was an important objective. Oxlade was keen to give his paintings a sense of narrative structure. However, the possibility of interpretation was vital. ‘I have no interest in the window-on-the-world kind of painting,’ Oxlade commented in an interview with Marcus Reichert in 2003. As a result, the artist described his pictures as offering a synthesis of thought, feeling and poetic imagination.

His unconventional and highly critical stance regarding what he thought passed for art flourished in the essays he published throughout his lifetime. He contributed regularly to Modern Painters, Art Monthly and The London Magazine. Oxlade also produced his own self-published pamphlets, Blunt Edge and Blunter Edge, which existed from 2001–2009. In 2010, Ziggurat Books published Art & Instinct, Selected Writings of Roy Oxlade.

Oxlade has had solo exhibitions at Alison Jacques Gallery, London, UK (2019); Hastings Contemporary, UK (2019); Art Space Gallery, London, UK (2013); Rutherford College, University of Kent, UK (with Rose Wylie, 2006); Aberystwyth Arts Centre, UK (with Rose Wylie, 1998); Wrexham Arts Centre, UK (with Rose Wylie, 1993); Reed’s Wharf Gallery, London, UK (1993); Gardner Centre Gallery, University of Sussex, UK (1990); and Odette Gilbert Gallery, London, UK (1988).

He has had work included in group shows at Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, UK (2016); The Observer Building, Hastings, UK (2016); Art Space Gallery, London, UK (2011); Art Space Gallery, London, UK (2006); Royal Academy of Art, London, UK (2003); Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery, UK (2002); Velan Center for Contemporary Art, Turin, Italy (2000); and Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, UK (1999).

Oxlade’s work is included in numerous collections, including Arts Council Collection, UK; Deal Collection, Dallas, Texas, US; JCR Collection, University College Oxford, UK; Jerwood Collection, UK; Radtrack Collection, London, UK; South East Arts, UK; and Stassinopoulos Collection, London, UK.

Read less

Works

Fire Place and Orange Log, 1984

Oil on canvas
Unframed: 121.2 x 152.2 cm (47 3/4 x 59 7/8 in); framed: 123.8 x 154.8 cm (48 3/4 x 61 in)
Courtesy: © Estate of Roy Oxlade

Black Glass, 1985

Oil and charcoal on paper
Framed: 61.4 x 81.4 cm (24 1/8 x 32 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate of Roy Oxlade

Axe and Knife, 1985

Oil on canvas
Unframed: 121.2 x 151.2 cm (47 3/4 x 59 1/2 in); framed: 123.8 x 153.8 cm (48 3/4 x 60 1/2 in)
Courtesy: © Estate of Roy Oxlade

Calico House Shadows, 1986

Oil and charcoal on paper
Framed: 61.4 x 81.4 cm (24 1/8 x 32 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate of Roy Oxlade

Untitled, 1987

Oil on canvas
Framed: 122 x 152.4 cm (48 1/8 x 60 in)
Courtesy: © Estate of Roy Oxlade

Orange Easel, 1987

Oil on canvas
Unframed: 152.6 x 119.4 cm (60 1/8 x 47 1/8 in); framed: 155.8 x 122.4 cm (61 3/8 x 48 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Estate of Roy Oxlade

Paint Brushes, 1993

Oil on canvas
Unframed: 72 x 92 cm (28 3/8 x 36 1/4 in); framed: 74.6 x 95.2 cm (29 3/8 x 37 1/2 in)
Courtesy: © Estate of Roy Oxlade

Pears and Bananas, 1996

Oil on canvas
Framed: 83.2 x 102.4 cm (32 3/4 x 40 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Estate of Roy Oxlade

Black Brushes in a Pot with Two Chairs, c.2000

Oil on canvas
Unframed: 101.2 x 121.8 cm (39 7/8 x 48 in); framed: 105 x 125 cm (41 3/8 x 49 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Estate of Roy Oxlade

Blue Table, c.2002–2004

Oil on canvas
Unframed: 102 x 81.7 cm (40 1/8 x 32 1/8 in); framed: 104.6 x 84.5 cm (41 1/8 x 33 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Estate of Roy Oxlade

Two Pears on a Dish, c.2003

Oil on board
Unframed: 56 x 76 cm (22 1/8 x 29 7/8 in); framed: 58.4 x 78.8 cm (23 x 31 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate of Roy Oxlade

Untitled, c.2004

Oil on paper
Unframed: 58.8 x 76 cm (23 1/8 x 29 7/8 in); framed: 61.4 x 81.4 cm (24 1/8 x 32 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Estate of Roy Oxlade

  • Fire Place and Orange Log, 1984
  • Black Glass, 1985
  • Axe and Knife, 1985
  • Calico House Shadows, 1986
  • Untitled, 1987
  • Orange Easel, 1987
  • Paint Brushes, 1993
  • Pears and Bananas, 1996
  • Black Brushes in a Pot with Two Chairs, c.2000
  • Blue Table, c.2002–2004
  • Two Pears on a Dish, c.2003
  • Untitled, c.2004

Press

Ordinary Excitements

Michal Boncza, Morning Star

July 2020

The Paintings of Roy Oxlade

Henry Ward, Turps

March 2020

Exhibition Diary: Roy Oxlade

Paul Carey-Kent, The World of Interiors

December 2019

Roy Oxlade and Tal R in Hastings

Martha Barratt, Burlington Contemporary

July 2019

Authentic Everyday

Hettie Judah, Mousse

June 2018

Roy Oxlade’s Subtle Strain of Humour

Cal Revely-Calder, Frieze

March 2018

Roy Oxlade: Painting A Sense Of The Absurd

Edward Lucie-Smith, Artlyst

March 2018

Roy Oxlade Obituary

The Times

April 2014

Roy Oxlade Obituary

Reg Gadney, The Guardian

February 2014

Interview: Roy Oxlade

Marcus Reichert, Artcritical

November 2003

Exhibitions

Roy Oxlade

15 November 201911 January 2020

Books

Art & Instinct: Selected Writings of Roy Oxlade

Roy Oxlade

2010

Art & Death: A Collection of Prose and Poetry

Ziggurat Books

2009

Art Without Art: Selected Writing from the World of Blunt Edge

Ziggurat Books

2008

News

Arts Council Collection acquires Roy Oxlade

A 1987 painting has been included in the 19/20 acquisitions portfolio

Roy Oxlade: Shine Out Fair Sun

Hastings Contemporary