John DuPret is in his sixties, and was born in Portsmouth, England, the younger son (as he puts it) of an extremely poor working class family. He began taking photographs and painting in his early teens and his only qualification on leaving school was a GCE in Art. He also won a place at the local College of Art, but family circumstances meant he couldn’t accept - he had to be a wage-earner and help support the family. For a large part of his life he felt bitterness that “rich kids” could have the privilege of Art College when he couldn’t, and sometimes refers to starting life with a plastic spoon in his mouth.
In 1973 he left the UK with his wife and 2 children and lived in New Zealand and Australia where he worked in Surreal and Faux Naïve themes. His paintings were exhibited in Sydney, (Australia); Wellington and Auckland (NZ), as well as touring throughout the Antipodes in mixed exhibitions. He was also the finalist in three major art awards, and his work was exhibited regularly in the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.
He returned to Europe in 1994, living in South West of France where he moved strongly into photo and hard-edged realism, and exhibited in Cordes, (a Bastide town close to his home) and in Paris.
In 1997 he returned to England and for a few years stopped painting, concentrating on his early love of photography. His fetish/erotic imagery was published in numerous magazines and books, culminating in a book of just his work. (Sirens). In 2005 he started painting again and has settled happily in the field of faux-naïve, photo-realism and hard-edged realism. With the occasional exception he takes the photographs himself.
“I was once a skinny, angry young man – I’m now a chubby, occasionally angry older man and find a tremendous joy in my work. My birthright “plastic spoon” means I’ve fought all the way for any success and can feel pleasure in any achievement as I’m certainly not the product of privilege. Also my influences have been broad, not restricted by the views of an art college tutor”.
He says he’s never truly happy unless there is at least one complex painting on the go, as the challenge and complexity of photo-realism and hard-edged realism satisfy a real need.