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Leading British contemporary artist, Toby Ward is to hold a one man exhibition of his recent paintings at The Catto Gallery, London from the 3rd through to the 24th February, 2008. A collection of 35 canvases offer unique vignettes of ‘real life’ populated by people and places ‘living their lives’ all drawn from this artist’s vivid imagination, with prices starting from £1,900.

Toby Ward is already well known for his portraiture, subjects include H.M.The Queen, H.R.H.The Duke of Edinburgh and he was recording artist for H.R.H. The Prince of Wales. He is a highly accomplished artist, similar to his late father, the great John Ward RA. "Technically our works are similar but there's no confusion" - not least because his father painted from models, and Toby so much from his imagination. He is regularly invited to become artist in residence, by institutions such as the UN Peace Keeping Force in Bosnia, the National Trust, the Royal Opera House, the Mercers’ Company, the Athenaeum Club, St Martins in the Fields, and the Royal Welch Fusiliers, to date.

These oil studies offer intimate portraits by an acute observer of human nature, with the immediacy of drawings, the humour of a cartoonist and the skill of an accomplished artist. The ‘players’ in Toby’s works are set in natural and everyday settings, all are imbued with an undercurrent of positive energy, making the viewer smile in recognition of a person or a situation. Be it a snatched liaison over some fruits de mer seen in ‘The Minor Delights of Jules Deloffre I’, a heated debate by animated French chefs in ‘Too Many Chefs’ or the panorama of lives on show in ‘The Village Event’

These are observations of human types, rather than accurate portrayals of ‘real people’. Ward’s own enthusiasm for cycling is reflected in ‘Young Americans’, a Tour de France style race through a welcoming Italian landscape, inspired by Lance Armstrong’s early career.
Active life is illustrated by sportsmen and women in groups, be they running races along the seafront as in ‘Brighton 10K’, or battling white water through a slalom course in ‘Kayak’; and are Ward’s observations of daily life, where he is fascinated by the complex problem-solving in arranging groups of people. Kids playing football in front of a Wren-style church in ‘Ambition’, highlight Ward’s passion for observation and architecture.

Ward is also a keen skier and was recently artist in residence for the Royal Yeomanry ski team in Verbier. A slope full of skiers and snowboarders evoke echoes of Stanley Spencer and1930’s publicity posters in ‘Good Times’.

This commentator on contemporary life portrays the frustration of a blocked move in a game of chess in ‘The Library Match’, with old friends reflecting on life in a French street café over some cards in ‘Cinq Cent Mille’. Or the slightly faded grandeur of a black tie banquet in a City livery hall captured in ‘Dinner in the City’ and a private dinner in a drawing room of a club in London’s Pall Mall portrayed in ‘The Chaplain and the Heavenly Guest’.

His portrayal of sailing dinghies and fishing fleet returning home successfully illustrate Ward’s fascination with drawing and the multiple viewpoint, as seen in ‘Filthy Weather in The Channel’.

Mrs Gillian Catto, owner and curator of The Catto Gallery, said, “We are delighted to welcome Toby Ward and his intimate and affectionate portraits of ‘normal life’ back to the gallery for the second time. This is a perfect opportunity for collectors to see the breadth of styles offered by this unique contemporary master.”

Godfrey Barker, leading art critic and journalist, comments: “The people in Ward’s mind are mostly imagined in France or Switzerland. To high degree he paints them passing time… where happiness is found on ski slopes, or in bars, or at cycle races, or on promenades but always in groups. This sounds casual. But Toby Ward. Like his father, is a highly educated artist who is fascinated by the complex problem-solving in arranging crowds and groups of heads and who studied depth and perspective in Mantegna, Brouwer, Pieter Breughel and Steen.”

For further information, images and a catalogue of the forthcoming Toby Ward exhibition, contact:

The Catto Gallery, 100 Heath Street, Hampstead

For further information:

Mrs Gillian Catto
The Catto Gallery
100 Heath Street
London NW3 1DP Tel: 020 7435 6660
Fax: 020 7431 5620

Media Enquiries:

Russell Elliott and Selina Mills
Cassleton Elliott & Co. Ltd.
Tel: 020 3178 2336
Fax: 020 3178 2338

Notes to Editors:

Toby Ward is a painter and draftsman primarily of people, the things they do and the places they inhabit. He paints portraits of men and women sometimes formally posed, sometimes going about their work or pleasures. His group studies are often based in France, Italy and Switzerland, the subjects are types rather than individuals in imaginary settings taken from his copious sketchbooks that accompany him everywhere.

He has worked as artist in residence at St. Martin-in-the-Fields during the redevelopment of the churchyard, the Mercers’ Company from 2003 to 2005, and the Athenaeum Club in 2004, as well as being recording artist with H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.

After serving for six years in the army with the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Toby studied at City and Guilds of London Art School where he won the Richard Ford Travel Award to study in Madrid. In 2005 he painted the portraits of two soldiers in southern Iraq for the Royal Welch Fusiliers. In 1995 he spent a month working with the United Nations Peacekeeping force in central Bosnia making a record in drawings of the life and work of the troops.

Also during the 1990s he made a series of drawings in two volumes for the National Trust recording the conservation of Chastleton House in the Cotswolds. This led to a commission to make 18 drawings and watercolours of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden before and during its redevelopment in the late 1990’s. The Ritz Hotel also commissioned a series of paintings of all aspects of life at the hotel from the kitchens to the gymnasium which now decorate the lifts in the hotel.

Toby has also made drawings to record well known visitors to the UK including President Clinton’s visit to Oxford University in 2001 and Archbishop Desmond Tutu preaching in London.

Since leaving art school Toby has constantly painted and drawn portraits. Among a number of significant commissions have been portraits of H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh, Lord Rothermere and Sir Sidney Kentridge.

Toby Ward has many influences, following his apprenticeship to his father, the great British artist John Ward RA, who also fostered his interest in architecture and machinery. He continues to be influenced by Stanley Spencer, since he visited the Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere as a child. Toby is also inspired by the English painters and illustrators from the mid 20th century including John Nash, together with Edward Ardizzone.

Drawing remains one of the definite forms of art for Ward, who feels it keeps his edge, and in this art form he is influenced by the 18th century English watercolourist Francis Towne, as well as Daumier. His father’s admiration for David Hockney’s drawings was also passed onto Toby, and his scale of figures in the crowd scenes is taken from Hans Memling’s genre.

Review from Godfrey Barker, art critic and journalist below - “This artist is absorbed by the fact that much of life is thinking nothing and doing nothing "and yet at the same time we are living through all that." A century ago we called this genre painting and we called artists like Ward boulevard artists, on the model of Jean Beraud in Paris. Ward spends lots of time in France and ascribes to the French a genius for creative idleness at all levels of society. "I like cheap bars in northern France," he asserts, "I like the people who drink there, I like the unfussy pleasure of an evening in an uncomfortable room with two types of beer and a red wine, I like the casual companionship and the passing of time."

This sounds casual. But Toby Ward, like his father, is a highly educated artist who is fascinated by the complex problem-solving in arranging crowds and groups of heads and who studied depth and perspective in Mantegna, Brouwer, Pieter Breughel and Steen. He lists other influences as Seurat, Balthus, John Nash, Nevinson, Gertler, Christopher Wood, Ben Nicholson, Spencer and Lanyon. This is not bad for a man who went late to art school at age 26. Toby learned much from the revered John Ward, one of Britain's best loved living artists. "Technically our works are similar but there's no confusion" — not least because the father paints from models, the son so much from imagination. Their shared skills are high, not least the assurance of line, the perfect turning of heads and bodies and suggestion of weight and volume.”

The Catto Gallery

The Catto Gallery is one of London’s leading contemporary fine art galleries. Since founding the Gallery in 1986, Gillian Catto has built up a reputation for excellence and has created a friendly and warm environment for collectors throughout the world. The Catto Gallery represents over 50 internationally acclaimed artists all of whom can be seen on this web site. 12 exhibitions are held a year; the catalogues for these exhibitions can also be viewed on this web site.

Gallery opening hours:

Monday to Saturday 10.00am to 6.00pm, Sunday 2.30pm to 6.00pm.

Parking is available on the Gallery's forecourt and pay and display nearby.

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