Owen Tozer’s 5 Favourite Paintings

“It’d be difficult enough to chose five favourite painters, let alone paintings. If I wrote this next week I’d choose a different selection no doubt, but here goes…”

Find out more about Owen’s work here.

1. John Martin – The Great Day of His Wrath

“This huge, apocalyptic painting depicts the moment the world ends as described in the last book in the New Testament. Mountains turn into murderous waves of rock, lightning bolts annihilate cities and the world is turned inside out. It’s an awe-inspiring creation. Despite it’s inescapable religious references, to me it hammers home the helplessness and insignificance of humans in the the grand scale of time and the awesome power of nature – a sentiment that feels particularly poignant at the moment.

As is often the case with artists, his paintings only became popular after his death. That in itself is a sad thing, but I choose to take it as a reminder that whatever I’m working on creatively is worthwhile and that I shouldn’t worry too much about the opinions of others of my work.

It’s in the Tate collection so worth a visit if you find yourself in London – once this peculiar apocalypse has passed”.

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2. Christopher Wool – If You

“I love Christopher Wool’s word paintings. Dark, funny and strikingly simple, they often take a bit of time to sink in but they stay with me for a long time every time I see one. I love how the words become abstract while at the same time carrying the weight of language and sentiment; and I love how, upon closer inspection, the paint, texture, layers and detail become apparent in what initially appears to be a black and white graphic”.

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3. Ed Ruscha – Wen Out for Cigrets / Not A Bad World Is It? / Pay Nothing Until April

“It’s impossible to choose just one Ruscha painting, because I love almost everything he makes. He’s an inspiration to me because he works in painting, printmaking, photography and film, and combines fine art with words and graphics. His work uses a unique mix of surrealism, humour, sentimentality and appropriation but still feels personal and playful. Seeing his work for the first time was a revelation for me because it showed me that artists can be more than just a painter or just use one medium.

That said, it’s his paintings I love the most, and particularly the ones which combine incredible fine art backgrounds with symbolic words and a signature humour which somehow makes the mundane seem philosophical”.

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4. Peter Doig – Ski Jacket

“Another difficult choice because I love so many of Doig’s paintings but this one is just about my favourite. A lot of his work from this time is inspired by films, music and his experiments with psychedelics which result in some amazing colour shifts and unreal combinations making them feel quite dreamlike.

Ski Jacket is a pulled back view of a ski hill dotted with ant-like skiers all buzzing down the mountain. It reminds me of a distant feeling, sitting on a chair lift and staring in wonder at the miniature people far below pointlessly romping around on the mountain. Scenes like this make me wonder if we might have all gone completely mad, we’ve mastered the art of play so perfectly”.

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5. Keith Tyson – Nature Paintings

“Keith Tyson’s work is so varied it makes him hard to classify. I’ve chosen his series called Nature Paintings because they are purely abstract, even if the process was somewhat scientific. The paintings are made by pouring paint and other pigments onto aluminium in a specific, mathematical order and then letting nature do the rest. The results are absolutely beautiful: complex colour studies which look something like marble or opal and remind me of those unbelievable photographs of space from the Hubble telescope. I’m always in awe of artists who can make such painterly, freeform work because my own work is often so exact and tightly controlled. How nice to just let the paint find it’s own way”.

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Bonus! Rene Magritte – The Empire of Light

“Perhaps not a current favourite, but the feeling this painting gives me has stayed with me since I first saw it as a teenager. When I was in school I became obsessed with surrealism and in particular with the paintings of Rene Magritte. Something about them felt less self-indulgent and more honest than the work of Dali and the rest. Magritte’s paintings can be jarring but they seemed strangely familiar and honest to me, as if they expressed how I felt.

One painting in particular of his called The Empire Of Light has always stayed with me and often at my favourite time of day – the magical minutes when the sun has gone down but the sky is still light but fading fast – I’m reminded of Magritte and this painting”.

Find out more here.