“I love people, the fact that despite how insignificant they might feel – everybody has something extraordinary about them, something that makes them stand out from the next person,” writes Jo Beer, a figurative painter from Cornwall, England.
The artist illustrates uniqueness and individuality in her paintings – the style, character, quirks of humans young and old – sometimes detailed, sometimes simple. Everything from wrinkles to tattoos is depicted in all its glory. Jo likes unusual compositions, half a body, a face half off the canvas, a slice of a person, with broad brush strokes. She always works in oil, and feels it has a “sexy fluidity”. The smells of turpentine, linseed, liquin, white spirit are “heavenly”.
Jo was taught at A level by Vincent Wilson (of the Royal Academy and Newlyn and Penryn Society of Artists). “He is my absolute art ‘hero’, my inspiration to better what I do,” she says. “He is 85 now and still follows my work, coming to my private views whenever I have one. He used to say that it always made him sad to find when he bumped into ex-students that they had become a nurse, or work in a bank, for example, rather than continue with their art, so I sort of felt that I wanted to be able to say to him thank you. This is what I am doing, and intend to do it well. I have developed myself since.”
Aside from Vincent Wilson, Jo loves the work of Nick Lepard, Tai-Shan Schierenberg, Jenny Saville, Georgia O’Keefe, Ewan McClure. She is also fond of Woody Allen films. Within music, the XX, Elbow, Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Springsteen are the main staples.
The artist also has a couple of important observations to offer on the contemporary art world: “One thing that irritates me is the imbalance in representation between male and female artists. It is old fashioned and attitudes need to be brought up to date. I also get cross that there are so many ‘vanity’ galleries, establishments that charge extortionate fees for hanging your work, then have little drive to try and sell your work because they have made their money upfront. There are so many emerging artists who cannot afford to show their work to the wider public because it costs them an arm and a leg to get it on a wall.”
Jo was twice featured in Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year (2016 London, 2013 Cardiff). She is married to artist Stephen Beer. They have two very creative children – Phoebe and Gabriel.
Images used with permission.