Scholarly biography and interests

Tony Benn is a practising artist exploring the inter-relations between a critical theoretical understanding of art and art history with the practice issues in fine art and painting. He has exhibited regularly almost every year since 1982 and studied for a practice-based PhD at the University of Brighton titled, 'Somatic Aesthetics and Aleatory Painting Practices'.

Benn is primarily a painter. His practice is studio-based but he is keen that the primacy of practice does not push aside theory but is instead revitalised by it. Consequently his interests have evolved to combine realist painting, the materialist histories of art and philosophy from a pragmatist point of view. As well as creating canvasses, Tony Benn's investigative methods include filmed interviews with established artists. As part of this process he has conducted interviews with artists such as Leon Golub as well Elaine Sturtevant.

Benn's practice-based research involves paintings with a difference - strange hybrid objects that are part painting, part bas-relief and part polemic. In these he asks what is possible or permissible to articulate within gallery type exhibition spaces. The hybrid objects are made with fetishistic attention to surface detail and nuance, with more labour put into ground preparation that might seem appropriate. The act of painting uses the quick and the arbitrary sketch to produce a painting that is both quick to see but slower to comprehend its full implications. Benn started out wanting to make still life genre paintings that would avoid at all costs ‘the problem of Cezanne’ as Stella put it.

Tony Benn has taught regularly in art schools in the UK since 1992, including Glasgow School of Art BA and Goldsmiths College MA.

Selected research and professional activity


The ‘everyday
Curated by Tony Benn

at Ruskin Gallery, Cambridge School of Art, November 2011.

Artists included; Amikam Toren, Christopher Stevens, Jo Stockham, John Wilkins, Luke Jackson, Paul Butler, Sam Jackson, Suzy Treister, Tony Benn.

The everyday is a contested term in current art debates. The everyday encourages associations with the domestic where the ordinary is more commonly encountered as beautiful rather than the sublime. Low-tech materials are often used as a means to access areas of aesthetic experience broaching the ordinary and the everyday. This would be a group exhibition using one or two pieces by each artist as well as other non fine art type objects. This exhibition ‘everyday’ seeks to draw attention to issues of value judgment and category definition. There are a number of artists where the issue of evaluating the good or merely appears redundant or contestable.

The exhibition seeks to show work from a variety of artists in which the everyday object or everyday activity of each artists, makes connections to issues of realism in art practices. The exhibition would also advance new forms of hybridity in art practices that reach out beyond fine art boundaries, for instance exhibiting craft objects that are fundamental to the everyday nature of life such as a small airplane engine.


Bad painting: An examination of the phenomena of ‘Bad painting’ through the work of Pragmatist philosophy. Sztuka i Filozofia Number 35/2010 ISSN 1230-0330 (


Interview Leon Golub: produced in Turps Banana magazine Issue Four. ISSN 1749-3994

'Next: Tomorrow' discussion, 1986 Women’s Audio Archive. The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, NY.


'Central Reservation', redux art, Leeds.


Title-sequence, Miser & Now 7, Keith Talent Gallery.


Interview with Elaine Sturtevant, SITE 7, Dusseldorf.


Interview Leon Golub, produced in Turps Banana magazine, Issue Four. ISSN 1749-3994

'Next: Tomorrow' discussion, 1986 Women’s Audio Archive. The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, NY.



'Inappropriate Behaviour', 23 November - 3 December, University of Brighton Gallery.


'Wish You Were There', Small Mansions Gallery.


'Secrets', Royal College of Art, London.


'Zoo Art Fair', Jeffreycharles Gallery, London.

'Chockafuckingblocked', Jeffreycharles Gallery, London.


'Red Snow', Ecology Gallery, London.


'Wildflower', Jeffreycharles Gallery, London.

'Bitches Brew', Jeffreycharles Gallery, London.


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