HEADS & HATS: Gary Stephens

5 March - 16 April 2022 Aachen

Gary Stephens was born in Arizona in 1962. He studied painting at the University of Arizona in Tucson from 1982 and drawing at the San Francisco Art Institute in the United States in 1984. He later spent nine years in Florence to refine his style, which was influenced by contemporary Italian design and traditional classical painting. Since 2008, the artist has lived and worked in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2009, he worked as part of a residency programme at Greatmore Studios in Cape Town. His work is in public and private collections in the USA, Europe and the Middle East.


Stephen‘s large-scale paintings and drawings pay homage to the traditional and modern urban style in his adopted home of South Africa.


Capturing an elaborate braiding pattern or a particular angle of a hat, his monumental portraits focus on the iconic expression of hismodels. Stephens also draws inspiration from the bold patterns and colours of Ankara fabric. He makes use of these by placing rich, abstract colours and patterns on the fabric before applying the outlines of his portraits. These patterns, which break through and enliven his portraits as if by chance, are a typical stylistic device in his works.