Anita Klein was born in Sydney, Australia in 1960 and studied at both Chelsea School of Art and Slade School of Art, where she was awarded the Henrique Scholarship in 1982 and 1983. In 1985 Anita was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers and was later elected their President in 2002. Public collectors of her work include the Arts Council of Great Britain, The British Museum and London University, and she has exhibited across Britain, Europe, America, India and Australia, including at the ICA and the Royal Academy in London.
At a time when the art world seems to be full of artists attempting to shock and denigrate, Anita Klein’s intimate, life affirming work comes as a welcome breath of fresh air. Her personal celebrations of everyday living rendered with humour, sensitivity and beauty reveal a joyful delight in the ‘dailiness of life’* (*Mel Gooding, ‘Anita Klein Painter; Printmaker’). Anita's art is an archive of personal moments that everyone can identify with. Witty, charismatic, warm and poignant, she is one of Britain’s finest and most prominent artists and printmakers of the 21st century.
No British artist has more thoroughly explored the female experience of family in the past 30 years than Anita Klein.
The main subject of Anita Klein’s ouevre, over several decades, has been Anita Klein herself. But (like the Madonna) she never ages, beyond her prime.
There’s something monumental about the figuration: Tamara de Lempicka-as-housewife, maybe, or Picasso in his podgy-lady phase. And then there’s the composition. The figures are artfully positioned within the frame, instructing the viewer’s eye-journey, as if planned by a Renaissance master. Once you realise this, you sense that these modern-day figures are akin to passers-by who’ve happened upon a momentous episode in the life of Christ, as depicted by Masaccio, or Fra Filippo Lippi.
When you hear Klein talk about her practice, you realise this is no coincidence. She studied fine art at Chelsea and the Slade, and lives part-time in Tuscany: she is heavily influenced by the work of late-medieval Italian frescoists.
Understand this, and you get what she’s up to: Klein is transposing the divine onto the everyday. The simple pleasures that make life worthwhile, so fleeting, so easily forgotten, which constitute the building blocks of family love. Moments, she points out, that went missing during lockdown.
There’s no edginess about it: Lucian Freud it ain’t. A priest once told her ‘I want my sermons to be like your pictures’, which says a lot. Klein is a painter who counts her blessings, and invites you to do the same. Is there a more positive-spirited British artist at work today?
Alex Leith, British Art Fair
How refreshing, then, to encounter the art of Anita Klein. This London based artist understands implicitly that, while art is a product to be made and traded, it is primarily and most importantly a way of communication between the artist and the public, a medium for sharing what it means to be alive and aware. Her work is popular, but never dumbed down, and it is very well made. Her paintings and prints can be understood at first viewing but, like all good art, become better known and more satisfying through repeated viewings... What unites all these works is their honesty, resulting in images that find their place in peoples’ homes and lives, rewarding repeated viewings, and producing delight. That is a rare gift in the art world.
Richard Noyce, The India Art Journal
Anita Klein is one of the finest and most collected printmakers working in Britain today. Her art is witty, charismatic, warm and poignant; an archive of personal moments that everyone can identify with.
This award reflects the emotional insight of Anita Klein in her observation and understanding of intimate social, family and sexual relationships, and her glorious ability to bring them to paper. It celebrates her sensual feel for form, human curves, shapes, moods, the patterns of touch between friends and friends – and lovers; the flow of their clothes and naked bodies; and the graceful optimism her paintings release into the world. They warm the air.
Ravel said he wanted his music to be complex, but not complicated. Anita Klein might say the same of her art. There is a grand simplicity to her works, but that is not the same as saying they lack subtlety and ambiguity. On the contrary, they have the sort of unselfconscious directness that comes from living and breathing art for so long that it becomes second nature.
It is quite brave not only to have a subject matter to your painting these days but also to be fascinated by such ordinary things. There are no desperate attempts to shock, expose or outrage; simply poignant moments showing the things which you would most miss if they were taken away from you.
It is nice to have a real humorist recruited to the ranks of gifted painters. She is to be congratulated on livening up our dreary lives.
Star of the show for me is the spare, knowing, subversive and comic work of a young painter called Anita Klein.
A blithe demonstration of intimacy.
'I know she’s got a quirky scale and that the figures are larger than life,’ says Jenny Groom, owner of a cookery school in Wiltshire, who bought one of Anita Klein’s oil paintings five years ago, ‘but it just accentuates their personality. The painting I have is called "Tuesday Evening", and it shows two women sitting across the table from one another, each holding a glass of wine. You just know they’ve got rid of their husbands and the kids are in bed and they’re having a good gossip, and it makes me laugh every time I look at it. She observes the minutiae of family life - the little things we do that are important to us. If my house was burning down, this is what I’d save'.
Those values of disegno - line and division, pure colour planes, formal pattern and interval - are those of the great mural painting of the early renaissance - the art of Giotto, Piero della Francesco and Masaccio - that Klein reveres above all others, and to which she has paid the closest attention. Like theirs, hers is an art of stillness, of action caught and suspended in the transfiguring moment.... These are the elements of abstract style, the components of the formal economy to which I referred at the outset. They are to be found ... in the quattrocento modernism that placed such revolutionary value upon the depiction of ordinary men and women in extraordinary circumstances, conferring dignity upon them by abstract formalities of figuration and placement. Klein puts these grand principles of ‘artistic style’ to work in the transformation of the South London quotidian, creating out of household events and holiday pleasures images of a resonant contemporary myth of love.
Selected Solo Exhibitions