Notoriously reclusive, Stanley Donwood doesn't pander to the disingenuous media trend for grandeur, and like many intelligent creatives operating in such a conceited sphere, cannot resist underselling himself.
Stanley's art ranges from propagandist graphics to introspective illustrations - but a consistent strength is its combination of the personal and political with modesty and humour. The powerful visual identity he has created for the band Radiohead is considered so in tune with Thom Yorke's music that the debate still rages as to whether he and Yorke are one and the same, despite accepting their 2001 Grammy Award for Best Packaging (a limited edition of Amnesiac) together.
The Minotaur group show (2011), held in the murky depths of Waterloo Station, saw Stanley construct a black and red labyrinth called Mithras Tauroctonos Subterranea which consisted of tunnels plastered in 900 propagandist posters. He had previously put on a show entitled Red Maze at the Schunk Museum wherein he had recreated the myth of the Minotaur's labyrinth using red thread. The labyrinth represents the ordered chaos of the human mind, logical to the creator but seemingly inane to everyone else.
When Red Maze closed, Donwood encouraged a spree of charitable looting. By emptying the contents of the gallery into the pockets of looters, the artist was making a statement about 'cultural cleansing'. Donations went towards the rebuilding of the museum in Kabul, previously looted by the Taliban.
On a more contained scale, Far Away is Close at Hand in Images of Elsewhere at The Outsiders London in September 2013, showcased Stanley's prints as well as ambitious ink and pencil pieces featuring country footpaths and other arboreal scenes. Inspired by the majesty of nature, Donwood's Holloways are eerie, all the more eerie now they've been cut down – removed like the piece of graffiti which inspired the title of this collection. Mysterious and melancholic, their botanical beauty inspires both awe and a liberating sense of feral mindfulness.
Another notable body of work entitled London Views, features an apocalyptic panorama that stretches from the Thames estuary past the familiar structures of the Gherkin, Big Ben and Battersea Power Station. Carved on linoleum, the fourteen pieces create a medieval-looking picture roughly twelve feet in length. Impossible to print using a press, the picture is hand-burnished on to Japanese Kozo paper.
In the summer of 2014 Stanley Donwood was revealed as the official artist of Glastonbury, producing imagery for t-shirts and newspapers since 2002. Nether (2013), which depicts a tunnel of trees with a ball of light emanating through it, was used as the festival's headline image in 2014. On the most basic level, it represents nature and spirituality – two things with which the festival has long been synonymous with - but perhaps this also alludes to the endangered Holloways that echo the uncertain existence of the festival itself.
Stanley Donwood is an avid self-publisher of his own artworks and short stories. Faber's publication of his book Holloway (2013) in collaboration with Robert Macfarlane and Dan Richards made a bestseller's list. The book explores the journeys these three took down sunken paths, worn down by the traffic of the ages. The Guardian says "with Donwood's ghostly, Hansel and Gretel-esque illustrations peppering the prose, Holloway is undeniably a gorgeous package. Even though it takes less than half an hour to read, the subtle call to revel in the wonder of the natural world lasts much longer".
Stanley Donwood has also published Dead Children Playing, a picture book with Thom Yorke and Household Worms, a collection of darkly humorous short stories.
Born in Essex, England 1968
Currently lives and works in Bath, England
1987 North Essex College of Art
1988 Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Exeter
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2015 The Panic Office, Carriageworks, Sydney, NSW, Australia
2015 Dream Cargo, Lawrence Alkin Gallery, London
2014 Hollywood Doom, Chapter, Cardiff
2013 Apocalypse Boutique, The Hang Up Gallery, London
2013 Far Away Is Close At Hand, The Outsiders, London
2013 Atoms For Peace, INSA, Camden Town, London
2012 Lost Angeles Subliminal Projects, Los Angeles, CA
2011 Work on Paper, The Outsiders, London
2010 Palimpsest, Mondo Bizzarro Gallery, Rome
2010 OVER NORMAL, Fifty24SF Gallery, San Francisco, CA?
2010 Red Maze, Schunck, Heerlen
2009 EL CHUPACABRA, Weapon of Choice Gallery, Bristol
2009 Printed Paper, Ink'd Gallery, Brighton
2008 I LOVE THE MODERN WORLD, Tokyo Gallery + BTAP, Tokyo
2007 If You Lived Here You'd Be Home By Now, Lazarides, London
2007 Department of Reclusive Paranoia, VIPs Gallery, Rotterdam
2006 Dead Children Playing, Iguapop Gallery, Barcelona
2006 London Views, Lazarides, London
1998 No Data, Watershed Media Centre, Bristol
1997 No Data, F stop Gallery, Bath
Selected Group Exhibitions
2016 Contemporary Istanbul, Lazarides, Istanbul
2016 Still Here, A Decade of Lazarides, Lazarides Rathbone, London
2014 Art Alliance: The Provocateurs, Lollapalooza Music Festival, Chicago
2014 London Original Print Fair, TAG Fine Arts, Royal Academy of Arts, London
2014 London Art Fair, TAG Fine Arts, Islington, London
2013 Moniker Art Fair, TAG Fine Arts, Shoreditch, London
2011 Minotaur, Lazarides Pop-Up, Old Vic Tunnels, London
2011 The Art of Mapping, TAG Fine Arts, London