Over five decades, the painter Humphrey Ocean RA''s work has filtered into our national culture. This includes his series of portraits entitled A handbook of modern life displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in 2013; his portrait of Christopher Le Brun, President of the Royal Academy of Arts; and the cover of Sir Paul McCartney''s 2007 album Memory Almost Full, which featured one of the Chair series. Ocean''s practice encompasses painting, printmaking, sculpture, book-making and drawing. Of the last, he has said: ''Paper is lovely, immediate and personal. I draw as an end in itself.'' In 2019 his exhibition ''Birds, Cars and Chairs'' is on display at the Royal Academy of Arts. Of these subjects, he says: ''Birds, cars and chairs are, in that order, ancient, modern and intimate. Without them life would be a lot less bearable.'' These works are reproduced alongside others in the book to provide a fascinating overview of Ocean''s career, with an essay by Ben Thomas, which sets out to discover exactly what it is that makes Ocean''s art so appealing and universal.
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