Charles Avery was born in 1973 in Oban, Scotland, where he sometimes works, even if he is primarily based in London, after having briefly attended Central Saint Martins.
He has recently had solo shows at the Edinburgh Festival, the GEM (The Hague), the ICA (London) and the Frac Île-de-France. He took part in a group show at the Taipei Biennial in 2014.
He won the Prospects Drawing Prize, London, in 2003, and his works are now in the collections of Daniel and Florence Guerlain and the Prints and Drawings Department at the Mnam-Centre Pompidou, Paris.
He is represented by the Pilar Corrias (London), Grimm (Amsterdam) and Ingleby (Edinburgh) galleries.
Since the year 2006, Charles Avery has focused his attention on a single project: the construction of an imaginary island, for which he has invented characters, landscapes and architecture, while including his reflections on philosophy, science and metaphysics.
Avery has always attested to an obsession with drawing. He enjoys the immediacy of this means of expression and, when asked which type of drawing he prefers, cites the concise, effective cartoons in The New Yorker. In his own or others’ work, he values “this economy of means that satisfies a sense of urgency”. Executed mainly in grey pencil, these frenetic drawings are now highlighted with gouache or ink, which adds a new density to the sheets, even though the artist concentrates essentially on construction and structure. In his view, drawing enables him to work on different temporalities and even to slow down the moments represented. For him, a successful drawing does not solely allude to the subject observed, but to a physical or temporal space which he depicts in a fictional manner.
Avery compares his approach to that of a writer and he has long been a fan of epic narratives like Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and novels such as Adolfo Bioy Casares’ The Invention of Morel. In 2004, he began developing his own Homeric project entitled The Islanders, in which he “stores” not only his ideas but also his thoughts on science and metaphysics.
His “system” is discovered through the eyes of his protagonist, The Hunter, who leads the way across the island, while acting as the avatar of the artist himself. Invented landmarks build up a parallel universe, but the complexity of the artist’s imagination in some scenes deliberately leads the onlooker astray. His narrative is not linear and, though he suggests paths along which to explore this territory, once spectators are walking along them, he makes no indication of where they end. This fictional day-to-day existence nevertheless enables Avery to evoke his economic or political concerns, thereby fostering an ongoing exchange between the imagination and reality, so as to question the world in which we live.
Charles Avery, Pilar Corrias, London – UK
Charles Avery: The People And Things of Onomatopoeia, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh – UK
What’s the matter with Idealism?, Gemeente Museum, The Hague – NL
fig-2 2/50 Charles Avery, ICA Studio, London – UK
Billboard for Edinburgh, Edinburgh – UK
Charles Avery, Galleria S.A.L.E.S, Rome – IT
What’s so great about Happiness? The people and things from Onomatopoeia, Grimm Gallery, Amsterdam – NL
It Means It Means! – A Drawn Exhibition by Charles Avery & Tom Morton at the Museum of Art, Onomatopoeia and Pilar Corrias, London, Pilar Corrias, London – UK
It Means, It Means! – A Drawn Exhibition by Charles Avery & Tom Morton at the Museum of Art, Onomatopoeia and Galerie Perrotin, Paris, Galerie Perrotin, Paris – FR
Vitrines: Charles Avery, L’Antenne, Le Plateau, FRAC lle de France, Paris – FR; Galleria S.A.L.E.S, Rome
New Works from the Islanders Project (Concerning the Qoro-Qoros, The Jadindagadendar and the Eternal Dialectic), Grimm Gallery, Amsterdam – NL
Place de la Revolution, Pilar Corrias, London – UK
New Drawings of Onomatopoeia, Galleria S.A.L.E.S, Rome – IT
Onomatopoeia, Part 1, EX3 – Centor per l’Arte Contemporanea, Florence – IT; Kunstverein, Hanover – DE; Frac Ile-de-France Le Plateau, Paris – FR
Onomatopoeia, Part 2: The Port, Pilar Corrias, London – UK
Onomatopoeia, Part 1: Creeds, Galleria Sonia Rosso, Turin – IT
The Islanders: An Introduction, Parasol Unit, London – UK; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam – NL; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh – UK
Maquette of the Eternity Chamber, Faye Fleming & Partner (former Galerie Arquebuse), Geneva – CH
The Islanders: An Introduction – part III, Faye Fleming & Partner (former Galerie Arquebuse) – CH
Charles Avery & Keith Wilson, Alexandre Pollazzon, London – UK
The Plane of the Gods, Cubitt Gallery, London – UK
The Islanders: An Introduction – part II, Galleria Sonia Rosso, Turin – IT
The Islanders: An Introduction, Doggerfisher, Edinburgh – UK
Hunting The Noumenon, Galleria Archimede Staffolini, Nicosia – CY
AVATARS, Galleria S.A.L.E.S, Rome – IT
The Hunter, Man in the Holocene, London – UK
It thinks, Galleria Sonia Rosso, Turin – IT
The Square Root of 2, Sleeper, Edinburgh – UK
The Freedom of the Universe, S.A.L.E.S., Rome – IT
The Truth about the Truth, Doggerfisher, Edinburgh – UK
Triangle Land, Dee Glasoe, New York – USA
The Palace of the Gulls, Percy Miller Gallery, London – UK
The Last Yolk, Sonia Rosso Gallery, Pordenone – IT
The Riddle of Pooch Avery, Dee Glasoe Gallery, New York – USA
The Ghost of Scirribin, Nylon Gallery, London – UK
Charles Avery, Richard Heller Gallery, Los Angeles – USA
The Life and Times of Nancy Haselswon, Tablet Gallery, London – UK
The Creation of the Omniverse, Nylon, London – UK
Portraits of People Who Never Existed, Entwistle Gallery, London – UK