“Painting for me is to take an amorphous substance like paint, and turn it into an illusionary image, thereby evoking the sensuality of feeling. Color is light, and through color I express my humanity.“
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.“
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.“
Carlos Diaz Sosa, Art Critic
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 Peter Selz notes: “Winston Branch … paintings suggest gardens, landscapes and seascapes, gardens in full bloom, the sky and clouds, the sea and it’s waves. They can be seen as the 21st century version of the great 19th century Romantic painters. Caspar David Frederick and Eugene Delacroix. (His) horizontal canvases evoke the sense of vast expanse. Done with a sweeping brush, they are the works of a daring colorist whose brilliant hues achieve a true iridescence.“
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.
“Winston Branch … paintings suggest gardens, landscapes and seascapes, gardens in full bloom, the sky and clouds, the sea and it’s waves. They can be seen as the 21st century version of the great 19th century Romantic painters. Casper Friedrich and Eugene Delacroix. (His) horizontal canvases evoke the sense of vast expanse. Done with a sweeping brush, they are the works of a daring colorist whose brilliant hues achieve a true iridescence.“
Peter Selz, Art Critic, Professor Emeritus of Art History, UC Berkeley
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). /p>
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).