Tobias Keene's work explores the fragility of being human. The artist isolates his subjects on the canvas, surrounding them with an uneasy negative space and symbols of shared cultural and social rituals. It is this separation of figure and ground, the individual from the collective, the inner from the outer, that makes Keene's paintings resonate with a deeper, psychological tone.
Although he now lives in Los Angeles, Keene, born and raised in England considers himself a third generation British painter. His father, Arthur Keene exhibited throughout Europe; a number of times at the Royal Portrait Society in London, until his recent death. His grandfather was a World War II painter who went under the name Van Art. Tobias studied under both his father and grandfather and became proficient in figure drawing, watercolors and oil painting techniques, although Tobias's practice these days is driven by his imagination and experiences of daily life: 'My work is the subconscious portrayal of childhood memories that are running into an unknown ambiguous future.'
Tobias Keene has had four solo exhibitions in Los Angeles and New York, and shown with Earl McGrath Gallery. In 2013 the Trout Museum of Art in Wisconson, USA, held a major retrospective of Tobias Keene, Arthur Keene and Van Art. Other recent group exhibitions include Fresh at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, The Christies Group Show at Christies Beverly Hills and Brit Week: Los Angeles, where Tobias represented British artists living and working abroad. Keene's paintings are held in numerous public and private collections - The Trout Museum of Art, Harrods Collection, Wallis Annenberg, Ahmet and Mica Ertegun, Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey Jr.