Basil Beattie (b. West Hartlepool, United Kingdom) is one of Britain’s most respected abstract painters. His career spans the early emergence of abstract expressionism in the UK during the late 1950’s through to a more recent emphasis on the ambiguities of signification. Beattie’s work is deeply invested in the physicality of the painted object, using gesture to traverse visual and semiotic systems. A signature aspect of his work is the use of recurrent pictographic ‘signs’ which resemble recognisable forms such as tunnels, steps, ziggurats, ladders and doorways. With these he explores the formal propositions and technicalities of painting and the symbolic possibilities that arise through his use of motifs.
Through his extensive teaching career at Goldsmiths College, London during the 1980s and 1990s, Beattie exerted a significant influence, shaping successive generations of artists, including the generation commonly referred to as the Young British Artists (‘YBAs’) who rose to international prominence in the 1990s. Beattie’s work was showcased in a Tate Britain display in 2007, which featured major acquisitions of his work made over the previous 20 years and in 2016, the Middlesbrough Institute of Art mounted a survey show of his work, When Now Becomes Then: Three Decades. Beattie became an elected member of the Royal Academy of Art, London in 2006 and in 2018 the Academy presented a solo exhibition of works on paper, A Passage of Time. Other significant solo exhibitions include Promises, Promises, Jerwood Gallery. Hastings, UK, Basil Beattie, IKON, Birmingham, UK. Group exhibitions include Jerwood Painting Prize 1998 and 2001 (Jerwood Gallery, London, UK and Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, UK in 2001), Thinking Out Loud (Camden Arts Centre, London, UK) John Moores Exhibition 15′, 16′, 17′, (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK. Beattie’s work can be found in numerous private and public collections including: Arts Council England; Contemporary Art Society, London; Deutsche Bank, London; Government Art Collection, London; NatWest Group Art; TATE London; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; Royal Academy Collection and the Jerwood Collection.