Painter Shani Rhys James at 70

To celebrate her 70th birthday in some style, Welsh painter Shani Rhys James is the subject of a new exhibition bringing together many of her major artworks from her much applauded career. The show, to be hosted by London’s prestigious Connaught Brown Gallery, will allow contemplation of work spanning several decades, showcasing Shani’s intriguing themes often based on exploration of the domestic arena, motherhood, family interactions and the practice of artist herself. The painter’s contribution to the cultural world has been well recognised over many years and her awards include receiving an M.B.E for services to Welsh art in 2006.

Rhys-James, Shani; Studio; Self Portrait; Newport Museum and Art Gallery;

Born in Australia, the painter later attended St Martin’s School of Art, London, during the 1970s and soon became known as one of the most significant painters of her generation. Her influences include the theatrical world, in which her parents were both involved. The idea of the staged setting has particularly intrigued the artist. In addition, Shani has always been curious about the emotional and psychological aspects of human existence, which she explores in her work, often with a focus on the female figure. The kitchen table, the common hub of the home, certainly plays a part in her expression. Her influences are wide ranging but include the movement of Expressionism, as well as such artists as Louise Bourgeois. Shani’s impactful and intriguing figurative work is known for its bold use of colour and ability to convey a complex array of emotions which can captivate the viewer.

Certainly, an amazing talent in the medium of painting, Shani is included in the upcoming book Unlocking Women’s Art – Pioneers, Visionaries and Radicals of Paint  (Aurora Metro 2023). Her interview, in turn, allows an insight into her practice and inspirations of one of the most brilliant artists of contemporary times. Having produced a fascinating body of work, the painter fully deserves this exhibition in honour of her huge talents. If you can, please go and see for yourselves – don’t miss out!

Happy 70th Birthday Shani!

Shani Rhys James at 70, Connaught Brown gallery, London, 19th April -19th May, 2023.


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