Charles Thomson

Charles Thomson is one of the most renowned contemporary British artists who is also known as a founding member of The Medway Poets and a co-founder of the Stuckist movement that evolved into an international art movement. Frequently referred to as the opponent of conceptual art, the public also remembered Thomson for his protests against the Turner Prize and satire involving the Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota.

A Short Biography

Thomson was born in 1953 in Romford, East London and got interested in art at a young age. While still a student, he organised various art events, founded an alternative arts centre called the Arts Lab and was involved in distribution of underground magazines in the UK capital. He attended the Maidstone College of Art, the Kent Institute of Art & Design but failed the painting degree.

After college, he worked as a telephonist and receptionist until 1987 when he became a full time poet. Meanwhile, Thomson co-founded the previously mentioned punk group The Medway Poets. Soon, however, the members came in conflicts, most notably Thomson and Billy Childish who reconciled only in 1999. In the same year, they founded the Stuckist art movement along 11 other artists. The name “Stuckist” was Thomson’s idea. He coined it after an insult to Childish by his former girlfriend and an YBA Tracey Emin who called him “stuck”.

The Leader of the Stuckist Art Movement

Childish left the Stuckists in 2001, leaving Thomson as the leader of the art movement that promotes figurative painting and opposes conceptual art. As mentioned earlier, he organised demonstrations against the Turner Prize between 2000 and 2005, and attacked Charles Saatchi for promoting the Young British Artists. In 2004, he also accused Saatchi of unfair art trading practices. His complaint at the Office of Fair Trading, however, was rejected.

In 2001, Thomson was a candidate of the Stuckists at the UK general election but lost to Chris Smith. One year later, he opened the Stuckism International Gallery which, however, closed in 2005.

Artworks

Thomson’s most famous artwork is his 2000 satire painting of the Tate director titled “Sir Nicholas Serota Makes an Acquisitions Decision” which also became the “signature” of the Stuckist art movement. Other notable artworks by Thomson include “A Long Way from Greece”, “Oxana”, “Woman in New York”, “Woman with a Turquoise Face” and “Salvator Rosa”, to mention only a few.