Born in Croydon in 1953, Horace Panter graduated with a degree in Fine Art from Coventry’s Lanchester Polytechnic in 1975. It was there that he met Jerry Dammers and together they formed The Specials, a band that went on to become one of the most defining British bands of the 1980s. He travelled the world (and its art galleries) as a musician and, from 1998-2008, was the ‘Head of Art’ in a secondary school. It was in 2008, when The Specials reformed, that he found he had the time to explore his own art practice.
Panter’s first solo exhibition was in 2009 at London’s Strand Gallery and he has since exhibited throughout the UK, including at the AAF London, The London Art Fair, and The London Print Fair at The Royal Academy. His work has also been exhibited at AAF Singapore and Best of British Singapore. In 2014 he has had solo exhibitions at Reuben Colley Fine Arts (Birmingham), Mandarin Gallery (Singapore – Fred Perry collaboration) and Icon Gallery (Singapore), According to McGee (York), Artists Gallery (Aberdeen), A Month of Sundays (Sheffield), and The White Room (Leamington Spa).
His work has been collected by Cerys Matthews, Nile Rogers, Richard Hawley, Graham Coxon, Tim Armstrong, rock writers Charles Shaar Murray and Garth Cartwright and Hollywood directors David Finkel and Donick Cary.
In 2015 the Myth Americana exhibition went on display at RedHouse Originals. The collection saw Panter return to the very beginnings of his love of art: paintings of street signs and diners, ubiquitous cultural landmarks that reflect his early interest in artists like Edward Hopper, David Hockney and Robert Rauschenberg, specifically in terms of colour and minimalism. What is left out of the painting is as considered as what is included, making them highly stylized motifs of the American cityscape.
Panter: “The Americana series explores the myth of America for me. I’m English and the flamboyant signage and brightly coloured buildings are like the jewels. I was always impressed by the work of Edward Hopper, his buildings seem very solitary and I’ve tried to incorporate that feeling in the work. It’s about what’s painted but also about what I’ve left out from my original photographs and sketches. The self contained myth!”
Much of Panter’s other figurative work is based on traditional forms of iconography infused with a Pop Art sensibility, with influences ranging from Edward Hopper, Kenneth Noland, Wayne Thiebaud and Joseph Cornell as well as the naive style of Henri Rousseau. His paintings and collages pay tribute to his favourite musicians, owing more to the influence of Peter Blake, Andy Warhol and Kurt Schwitters with an emphasis on the visual narrative of the subject presented in fragmented pieces but expressing a cohesive history, as can be seen in his Chicago Blues series. In his Cassette series, the artefact is celebrated along with the cultural/historical context of seminal albums and the recording studios in which they were made.
Panter: “Coming of age in the 60’s meant that, artistically, I was attracted to the Pop Art movement, both in the UK and the USA and was influenced by artists such as Peter Blake, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Robert Indiana, Derek Boshier and Allen Jones. It was art I could relate to, alongside my other predilection for the 12” vinyl record … for an impressionable youth this collision of art and music was magical!”
The artist has also worked on a number of professional collaborations with brands, including Fred Perry, Club Wembley, Sheaffer Inc., Teenage Cancer Trust, Amy Winehouse Foundation, Dr Martens, Lady Muck, Strummerville, Blues Magazine UK, Screaming Records DK and Stone Foundation (the latter two involved designing record labels and album covers).
Whilst not travelling the world with The Specials, Horace Panter lives and works in the Midlands, UK.