Profile

Dan Tejo has always been an artist who enjoys a challenge. His aim is to capture the play of light on different surfaces and for him the subject of the work is often of secondary importance. Like Caravaggio and Rembrandt, two artists whose work he has admired from childhood, he is more interested in painting the light itself. He is fascinated by colour and often finds himself staring intently at everyday objects or familiar faces, trying to work out how he would capture that precise skin tone or texture on canvas.


Dan's dramatic figurative work has an extraordinary impact on the viewer, partly due to the power and immediacy of the image, and partly to the sheer scale of each composition. He paints in oil on canvas for the richness of the texture, and the ability to blend shapes and colours. He also finds that oils are the best way to create the kind of layering effect which gives a deep and sumptuous finish.


Dan's personal story is an intriguing one. After completing an Art Foundation course and gaining a place at Falmouth School of Art, he took an eleventh hour decision to defer and go travelling, and set off on what was to become a huge voyage of self-discovery. Arriving in Western Australia he was transfixed by the vast open spaces and the dazzling night skies. Pursuing a relaxed lifestyle in the company of friends, he thought that nothing could ever be better than this, but gradually he was beset by a feeling that there was more to life and became interested in Buddhism.


After visiting a monastery in Western Australia, Dan returned to the UK. Here he was ordained as a Theravadan Buddhist Monk, and undertook to live an austere and disciplined life in a forest monastery. Although at times this was peaceful, he describes the struggle of "confronting yourself all day every day, which can be an incredibly uncomfortable thing to do. The Buddha often exhorted his monks to be like warriors, but until you live the life of a monk it is hard to understand just how accurate that is."


Eventually, Dan found himself a more contented man who had learned to make mediation and contemplation central to his daily life. Having resigned from the order and resumed painting, he made a brave trip back to Australia to find the girl who he had fallen in love with 10 years earlier in a Melbourne bar. The two were married and set up home together in Southern Spain before moving to North London where Dan now has his studio.


Dan has exhibited his work in many prestigious Mayfair galleries and all over the UK, Spain, the USA and Australia. He regularly fulfils portrait commissions and has a number of private collectors.