About Winston

Winston Branch (born in 1947) is a British artist originally from Saint Lucia, the sovereign island in the Caribbean Sea. He still has a home there, while maintaining a studio in California. Works by Branch are included in the collections of Tate Britain, the Legion of Honor De Young Museum in San Francisco, California, and the St Louis Museum of Art in Missouri. Branch was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1978, the British Prix de Rome, a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Fellowship to Berlin, a sponsorship to Belize from the Organization of American States, and was Artist in Residence at Fisk University in Tennessee. He has been a professor of fine arts and has taught at several art institutions in London and in the US. He has also worked as a theatrical set designer with various theater groups.

As described by art critic Carlos Diaz Sosa, Branch paints “abstract canvases in cool, cloudy colors that have a quality which allow the viewer to explore the depths of the mind. Branch uses paint like a symbol, a purely aesthetic language, an illustration of spirit.

Winston with his paintings in Carmel, CA, 2008

Branch paints “abstract canvases in cool, cloudy colors that have a quality which allow the viewer to explore the depths of the mind. Branch uses paint like a symbol, a purely aesthetic language, an illustration of spirit.

Early Years & Education

Born in Castries, Saint Lucia, Branch attended a Catholic school there, before being sent to London at the age of 12 in the 1960s. He explains: “My parents saw I had an aptitude for art and wanted to give me the best opportunity.” He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, where his talent was recognized early, and after graduating in 1970 he won the prestigious British Prix de Rome, enabling him at the age of 24 to attend the British School at Rome for a year (1971–72).

Critic Amon Saba Saakana notes: “Branch had a first hand experience of the Renaissance masters and subsequent developments of art movements in Europe. And though he ingested these European masters, he was searching for a form that incorporated and reflected his beginnings in the Caribbean. Though first working in the figurative tradition, he moved to abstracts as he apprehended the world of colour reflected in the cosmos, lightning, volcanoes, tropical storms, and earthquakes

Teaching

In 1971, Branch was a visiting tutor at Hornsey College of Art and at Goldsmiths College of Art, London University. His first visit to the US was as Artist-in-Residence at Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee, in 1973, and in the UK between 1973 and 1992 he also taught at Kingston School of Art, Chelsea Art School and at the Slade School. He was a professor of art at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Kansas State University.

He has also given several public lectures, including at Oakland Museum of California, at the Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University, and at Barrows Hall, University of California at Berkeley.

Branch had a first hand experience of the Renaissance masters and subsequent developments of art movements in Europe. And though he ingested these European masters, he was searching for a form that incorporated and reflected his beginnings in the Caribbean. Though first working in the figurative tradition, he moved to abstracts as he apprehended the world of colour reflected in the cosmos, lightning, volcanoes, tropical storms, and earthquakes“.

Painting

Branch has exhibited his work consistently since the 1960s, including at the Oakland Museum of California, the Alliance Francaise de San Francisco, the permanent collection of the Berkeley Art Museum, the 11th and 23rd São Paulo Art Biennial, Museo de Arte Moderno in São Paulo, the 4th Bienal de Pincture de Cuenca, Modern Art Museum (Cuenca, Ecuador) and the Biennale de Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

In 2010 he fell ill while at San Francisco International Airport waiting for a flight in order to exhibit work and give a lecture at the Museum of Modern Art in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and was cared for at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, where following his recovery he held an exhibition entitled A Gift of Life (1 May–24 June 2011).  He has subsequently spent more time in London, where he has a close longtime association with the Chelsea Arts Club.

Most recently, he was one of the artists featured prominently in No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960–1990 (July 2015–January 2016) at the City of London’s Guildhall Art Gallery, with three of his paintings hung at the entrance of the exhibition. One of the works shown was his painting West Indian — “a marked exception” to the non-figurative style now more typical of Branch — on loan from Rugby Borough Council’s respected collection of 20th- and 21st-century British art, which also includes works by L. S. Lowry, Barbara Hepworth, Stanley Spencer and Bridget Riley.

 

From early on in his career, Branch’s work has won recognition and awards, such as the British Prix de Rome in 1971, a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Fellowship to Berlin in 1976, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1978 (in which year he was featured in the international quarterly journal Black Art).

His paintings are in public and private collections. Several are in St. Lucia, Germany and France, as well as Tate Britain (London, UK), The Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento, California), The Legion of Honor – The DeYoung Museum (San Francisco, California), The University of California Berkeley Art Museum, St. Louis Art Museum, Mott-Warsh Collection (Flint, MI), The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (New York, NY), Sprint Headquarters (Overland, KS), The Arts Council of Great Britain (London, UK), The British Museum (London, UK), The Contemporary Arts Society (London, UK), Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK), Hamburg Kunst-halle (Hamburg, DE), Her Britannic Majesty Military Government (Berlin, DE).