Paul Winstanley was born in Manchester in June 1954. He studied painting at Cardiff College of Art from 1973-76 and the Slade from 1976-78.
Schooled in the orthodoxies of abstract Modernism, Winstanley spent a decade after college establishing a new visual language, combining the tenets of minimalism with the pictorialism of photography. His breakthrough showing of the large painting 'Walkway' at the Whitechapel Open in 1989 won him the first prize Unilever Award. He went on to enjoy a year as Kettle's Yard artist in residence in Cambridge, hosted by Churchill College with Newnham College providing the Old Lab in the gardens as a studio. In this fertile environment he created a new body of work shown first at Kettle's Yard and then on tour within the UK. Throughout the 1990's Winstanley developed an array of related imagery of semi-public, post-war interior spaces; of waiting rooms, lounges, TV rooms, walkways and lobbies; creating a meditation on the utility of English modernism and its concurrent political underpinnings. Along with his landscapes viewed from moving vehicles this work culminated first in his1993 show 'Driven Landscapes' at Camden Arts Centre and then in his 1997/98 Art Now show 'Annexe' at Tate, Millbank.
Following a serious road accident and recovery he emerged with a new emphasis on the transience of the interior/exterior relationship, notably in the diaphanous and translucent series of paintings 'Veil' which he pursued intermitantly over a ten year period and of images of modernist architectural interiors with large plate-glass picture windows evoking the sublime. He had a major retrospective of his work at Art Space, Auckland, New Zealand in 2008.
The role of the viewer is central to an understanding of Winstanley's paintings and his occasional use of the figure echoes that active passivity. Engrossed, they watch, look, wait, smoke, phone, text.
In 2013 his photographic project 'Art School' was published by Ridinghouse. Focussing on the empty, tarnished studio they picture a teaching and creative environment on the cusp of existential change. The images became the basis for a new, extended body of work using the art school studio interior as a model from which to explore divergent painterly concerns, from the tropes of Dutch 17th Century interior painting to American mid-century minimalist abstraction. This necessitated a change in practice, painting on wood and aluminium panels instead of stretched linen. The change of materiality has opened up new possibilities, presaging other manifestations, creating new lines of thought.
Winstanley has shown regularly in Los Angeles, New York, Dublin, London, Paris and Hamburg. He has work in the collections of Tate (London), MoMA (New York), MoCA (Los Angeles), IMMA (Dublin), The British Library, The New York City Public Library, Southampton City Art Gallery, ACGB, British Council. He lives and works in London.