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Pass Notes: Brian Rice

Harpers Bazaar
February 10, 2014

Everything you need to know about the iconic painter:


Conor Mullan gives us the lowdown on rediscovered swinging 60s London painter Brian Rice.


Who is Brian Rice?

A 1960s abstract painter and scenester who lived with Derek Boshier, hung out with The Rolling Stones, The Who and David Hockney and developed some of the iconic imagery we now associate with the 60s. Rice abandoned London in 1970 when its drug-hazed optimism ended, escaping to West Dorset to become a shepherd. By the mid-70s he had returned to art, later becoming president of The Print Council. 


Anything else?

Rice was born in Somerset and became a professional cyclist before taking up art. His bold use of colour, not to mention his seriously cool friendship group, soon made him a linchpin of London's creative scene. 


What’s his stuff like?

A current exhibition surveys his work from 1959-1970. This encompasses aesthetics from gestural abstraction informed by American abstract Expressionism, through to the pop art surrounding the Royal College of Art and later the hard edged abstraction of London Situationists.


So…how would I recognise one of his pieces?

Much like his friends and contemporaries Hockney, Kitaj, Boshier and Caulfield, Rice's works from the 1960s are evocative of the time in which they were painted. His art incorporates elements from Bauhaus and Russian Supremacist design, American Post-War Minimalism and the West Country painters of St.Ives and Newlyn.


What's he doing now?

Although 60s Swinging London did take its toll he is still painting and print making in his 16th century farmhouse in West Dorset.


Who likes him?

His work is represented in National and International public and private collections such as The Tate, The V&A, The British Council and The Arts Council to name a few. Diligent collectors of Modern British art have bought up Rice's available work from the 50s and 60s for some years now. 


Where can I see his work?

An exhibition of Rice's work is currently on at the Redfern Gallery. It is the first comprehensive exhibition of work to be commercially available for nearly 50 years and David Hockney, among other of Rice's contemporaries, has been to and loved the show.