Primarily a painter, John Stephens works within an abstract idiom making paintings, works on paper and more recently wall constructions, which although characterised by a ‘pared down’ aesthetic aims at a richness through its layering of paint. His practice derives from the urban environment with its bounded spaces; of absence and emptiness; the immanence of surface and a sense of incident within a palimpsest of layerings; a palette determined by ‘found’ industrial and worn colours and the potential for creating a visual poetry. He also draws on the models of abstraction of the last 100 years from the Russian constructivists such as Kazimir Malevich to the minimalists and post minimalists such as Elsworth Kelly, Donald Judd and Brice Marden and the paradox of rich poetic images articulated through a seeming ‘nothingness’.
John Stephens studied fine art at the Hochschule fur Bildende Künste in Berlin, Germany and was there during the politically significant years of the late 1960s. His professional life has been in art education and he was until recently Head of Art and Design at the University of Bedfordshire and where he is currently an associate research fellow. During the 1980s and 1990s he was involved in the Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, one of the first artist-run galleries in Britain. He has shown his work in London, Manchester, Israel, Croatia and Germany with shows over last 12 months at Susak Expo(rt), Mali Losinj, Croatia; Susak Impo(rt), Studio 1.1, Shoreditch, London; ‘Degrading’, Studio 1.1; ‘The Year of the Dragon’, Q-Park, Soho, London and with Directional Forces, Artoll, Kleve, Germany. He was a performer in Tino Sehgal’s ‘These Associations’ a 2013 Turner prize nominated work in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London.