Today Team GB announces the appointment of British artists, Ben Mosley and Max Denison-Pender as their official Artists-in-Residence for the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Both artists will travel to Tokyo to paint the athletes at work, rest and play. Post Olympics the paintings will be virtually exhibited before being sold and auctioned with the proceeds going towards Team GB’s fundraising for future Olympic success.
Scott Field, Team GB’s Director of Marketing and Communications, commenting on the initiative, said: “Art is synonymous with the Olympic Games in many ways, and we are delighted to be able to support two young British artists as they seek to capture the essence of Tokyo 2020 and Team GB’s performance there.”
This celebration of art and sport is not only a tacit nod to the past; when medals were given out at the Olympics for art competitions as recently as 1948 but also an enthusiastic response to the current recommendations of the Olympic Agenda 2020, the Olympic Movement's strategic roadmap, which includes a recommendation to “further strengthen the blending of sport and culture at the Olympic Games and in-between.”
Both artists who are no strangers to capturing action in paint, were engaged by Team GB and view their Artist-in-Residence role as a great honour. Ben Mosley (38), a Fine Arts graduate from Liverpool University and one of Britain’s premier live artists, paints in an abstract style reminiscent of the action art of Kline and de Kooning.
Past commissions include Wembley Stadium since producing two large scale murals depicting the stadium’s history. He’s also worked with McDonalds over the World Cup in Brazil, where his painting “Fans of the World”, saw the company adapt its iconic fry box to display the artist’s work and was appreciated by over 60 million people from around the world.
Endorsers and collectors of Mosley’s work include Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Ed Sheeran and Mike and Zara Tindall. Commenting on his Team GB appointment, Mosley says: “I paint about many different sports in my practice, so being an official artist of Team GB is fulfilling a life's ambition. It's a terrific honour to be going to Japan to represent my country through my art. I paint about sport because it brings people together in celebration from all walks of life and the narrative behind each sporting moment is so inspiring.
“The Olympics is so special because of the incredible bond between the athletes that compete and the fans they are representing in the stadium. I will be aiming to capture this unique bond in my work and celebrate the triumphs of Team GB both individually and collectively throughout the games in my paintings.”
Max Denison-Pender, 22, is a classically trained artist who left school aged just 16 to learn his craft and regarded by many as a painting prodigy, views his ticket to Tokyo as fate intervening in a surprising way; “When I was a speedy 13 year old I was a keen sprinter and hurdler; coming fourth in the National Championships final in Birmingham. When the Olympics came to London in 2012, I remember wanting more than anything else to star in a future Games, then painting took over my life and nine years on, here I am at the Olympics with a paintbrush instead of a baton.”
Denison-Pender believes that there is still a place for painters in the modern, sporting arena, adding, “In a world of smartphones where everyone has a camera to capture the here and now, there is still a demand for more meditative images through the medium of paint to ignite the imagination and inspire.”
Denison-Pender recently hosted his first sell-out exhibition “The Heart of London”, where his paintings of boxers caught the eye of a Team GB visitor. Denison-Pender was the first artist in over 30 years to gain permission to paint ‘in situ’ the outside of the iconic facade of 10 Downing Street.
The Tokyo Olympics is an opportunity to pilot the Team GB Artist-in-Residence initiative as the nation also looks ahead to Paris 2024 and an Olympic Games in nearby mainland Europe.