Meet the artist: Ian Humphreys

6th May 2018

Meet the artist: Ian Humphreys

As we host his first, much-anticipated solo show in our Bristol gallery this month we delve into the inspiration behind Ian Humphrey’s work and his unique approach to abstracting the Irish landscape around him. 

Ian Humphreys was born in Hertfordshire in 1956. He studied in Berkshire College of Art and Design between 1973 and 1975 and graduated with an Honours Degree in Painting from Exeter College of Art & Design in 1979.


Since then, Ian has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, including the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and the Hunting Prize. His work is held in many prestigious public and private collections globally, he has been represented at art fairs throughout the world and in 2014, he was invited to participate in the highly-regarded residency programme at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in Connecticut in America.

He now lives and works on Heir Island in West Cork, Ireland.

My current work is a direct response to living on the coastline of West Cork, Ireland. Sea, sky, tide, the changeable and vibrant weather and light, space and paint are the timeless elements that are the essence of my paintings.


Ian is renowned for his stripped-back style of painting crafting striking abstractions with distinct texture and muted tones as he seeks to capture the “essence and atmosphere of the island” on which he lives. “So much of what I do comes from the beauty that surrounds me and although I walk the same route each morning for inspiration, each day presents new colours to capture which can be seen in my work.”


Concerned with the fundamental elements of painting, Ian’s works examine the marks, colours, tone, light, line, space, form and visual rhythm that form the basis of all paintings. “All good painting understands itself from when or wherever it comes - figurative or abstract, old or new - that is to say, it knows what it’s made of.” In its purest form, he considers a painting to be “a collection of marks” that becomes an object in its own right, be it a still-life, figurative or landscape, which continues to give life to the subject matter beyond its initial viewing. 

His process focuses on layering and scraping back the paint, following its gravitational movements, working across the vertical and horizontal axes and responding to the scale and shape of the canvas. As an artist he intriguingly looks to cut away the mystique about painting and instead “I search for a balance and rhythm until it is itself” creating pieces with “a physicality and mood, a surface of marks, space, and colour that speak and sing together, until they make a clear, pure magic of their own”. This, he believes, is to keep his practice true to the timeless spirit of being an artist.  


Ian Humphreys’ solo exhibition be on show will 3rd – 26th May at Lime Tree Gallery in Bristol.