Winston Branch: Jasmines blowing in the wind

22 November 2022 - 14 January 2023

Simon Lee Gallery and Varvara Roza Galleries are pleased to announce Jasmines blowing in the winda solo exhibition of paintings by Winston Branch. For his inaugural exhibition with the gallery and his first in the UK in 25 years, Branch will present a selection of historic works that delve into the possibilities of painting through abstraction.

Ambitious and experimental, the works in this exhibition are the fruit of a 25-year long inquiry into the potentiality of light, colour, space and depth. Born in St. Lucia in 1947, Winston Branch came to London as a teenager to study at The Slade School of Fine Art. Branch would go on to teach at The Slade School of Fine Art, Chelsea College of Arts and University of California (Berkeley, CA) amongst others, whilst maintaining a robust painting practice initially focused on figuration but, from the 1980s onwards, focused on pure abstraction.

Dating back to 1982, the earliest works in Jasmines blowing in the wind exemplify the artist’s first forays into abstraction. Formed of short, rhythmic brushstrokes, the paintings are energetic and exploratory in their approach to mark-making. In dialogue with French Impressionism, these works were created through instinct and observation, and belong to same suite as Zachary II, acquired by Tate in 2018. Later works in the exhibition see Branch demonstrate an increasingly dexterous handling of space and colour. In paintings such as Blue for Miles (1999), for example, the artist uses great swathes of rich pigment and thicker, more fluid brushstrokes to open up the picture plane.

Winston Branch’s journey with abstraction begun in 1982, the same year in which the British Black Arts Movement was founded to examine issues of racism, sexism and the legacies of colonialism. But, primarily concerned with formalism, Branch was excluded from many seminal exhibitions of the time which were focused on identity politics. 40 years on, this exhibition brings together the results of the painter’s investigation into the possibilities of abstraction and hopes to introduce a wider audience to the work of Winston Branch.