Artist Spotlight: Hugo Grenville

/ Royal Society of British Artists

Hugo Grenville, Women looking in mirror
Hugo Grenville, Women looking in mirror

The Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) Annual Exhibition 2024 features exceptional works by esteemed Society members and works by talented non-member artists. This must-see exhibition reflects the artistic excellence of the RBA, opening on Thursday 29 February.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Hugo Grenville, an exceptionally talented artist who specialises in oil painting. Grenville masterfully creates a serene world with his collection of figure subjects and everyday objects. Through his work, he captures the very essence of joy in life, light and colour.

Q&A with Hugo Grenville: 

Can you tell me about your artistic background, what draws you to painting and your desire to visually record the world around you?

I was eleven years old when I was first bowled over by a painting. Whilst on a family holiday in France my parents had taken me to see the Louvre, where I encountered Delacroix’s monumental “Liberty Leading the Revolution”: a vast canvas packed with action, gun-smoke, boys and young men carrying pistols, and in the middle of this mêlée a beautiful woman in a low-cut dress holding a flag. I sat on the floor and gazed at the painting for half an hour. I loved stories as a child (I still do), and was entranced by this glorious woman hoisting aloft the Tricoleur in the middle of a battle, leading the revolutionaries over the barricades. The energy, the drama, the beauty of it all. I started painting at school shortly afterwards, watercolours of battle scenes, or other episodes from history, that caught my imagination. Later, as a teenager, I began painting landscapes out of doors in oil, won some school art prizes, and exhibited at the Chelsea Art Society aged 14, but it never occurred to me, or anyone in my family, that I should consider a career as an artist. So, I became first a soldier, taking my watercolours with me on operational duty to the civil war in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, drawing and painting whenever I had time. I became a member of the Armed Forces Art Society. After leaving the army I worked for an American advertising agency in London, before setting up a business to commission art for office buildings and hotels. On Saturdays I would set off to paint the world around me, sitting on London Street corners, and on the towpath of the Regents Park Canal, making watercolours of urban life, answering a need that I could not clearly define.