Artist Tania Still is a sensational phenomenon in contemporary British art. Not since Stubbs painted his famous portrait of Whistlejacket now in the National Gallery, has a British artist had such an innate ability to capture the individual character of a single animal.
Specifically, Still paints hounds. Principally Fox Hounds, Greyhounds and Mink Hounds, although she has also visited Ireland to paint Beagles and Harriers. But it is the bold way in which she presents her subjects which make her so distinctive and draw parallels with such an illustrious predecessor.
Like Stubbs, and with a similarly convincing grasp of anatomy, Still places her subjects against a simple, single colour ground, allowing the creature to speak for itself and thus communicating its true nature. Painting on a grand scale, more normally associated with human portraiture, she has in effect, lifted the British tradition of sporting art from its too often mundane contemporary appearance and reinvented it in a way which crosses aesthetic boundaries and gives it an appeal outside the realm of the specialist.
While her work is already highly prized and hangs in several major private collections, an exhibition in Edinburgh during the summer festival will be her first major solo show. More than thirty five of Still’s oil paintings will be on view, many of which are six feet square, and larger. This monumental scale, coupled with Still’s unique approach, deft draughtsmanship and a handling of paint which evokes the texture of a hound’s coat as perfectly as it does the glint of sunlight on a river, give these paintings an unforgettable impact.
Tania Still was born and brought up in North Yorkshire and studied art at the City and Guilds Art School in London. A selection of her paintings for the exhibition can be previewed at the Harewood CLA Game Fair in July, stand K651.