Clive Hicks-Jenkins was born in Newport, south Wales, in 1951. The early part of his career was as a choreographer and stage director. In the 1990s he turned away from theatre to concentrate on painting. He has been praised by critics in The Independent, Modern Painters and Art Review. Simon Callow has called him ‘one of the most individual and complete artists of our time' and Nicholas Usherwood in Galleries has described his work as ‘reflective, expressive painting of the highest order.’ 

He shows regularly with the Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff and the Tegfryn Gallery in Menai Bridge, and has had solo exhibitions at Christ Church Picture Gallery in Oxford, the Museum of Modern Art Machynlleth, Newport Museum & Art Gallery, Anthony Hepworth Fine Art, Brecknock Museum, the National Library of Wales and Aberyswyth Arts Centre. His paintings, prints and private press books are in numerous public collections, including the National Museum of Wales, the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, MoMA Machynlleth, the Contemporary Art Society for Wales, Llandaff Cathedral, Pallant House Gallery and the Methodist Church Collection of Modern Art, as well as private collections and libraries around the world. He is a Royal Cambrian Academician and an Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University School of Art. In 2017 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Southampton Solent University. 

In 2016 Random Spectacular published Hick's-Jenkins dark reworking of Hansel & Gretel into a picture book, and the following year Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop in Covent Garden commissioned a Hansel & Gretel toy theatre kit based on it. In response to the two publications, Goldfield Productions engaged the artist, to direct and design a new version of Hansel & Gretel with music by Matthew Kaner and a libretto by the poet Simon Armitage. Performed by a chamber consort, a narrator/singer and two puppeteers, it premiered at the Cheltenham Music Festival in July 2018, earning a four-star review from The Guardian before beginning a five month national tour. Simon Armitage's Hansel & Gretel poem/libretto is due out in the Autumn of 2018, published by Design for Today with illustrations by Hicks-Jenkins, The year also marks the completion of his fourteen print series inspired by Simon Armitage's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, made in collaboration with and published by Penfold Press. Autumn 2008 sees the publication by Faber & Faber of Armitage's revision of his Gawain translation, illustrated throughout with images by the artist.

Hicks-Jenkins is gaining an increasing reputation for making theatrical and works set to music. In 2014 Composer Mark Bowden and poet Damian Walford Davies wrote The Mare's Tale, a work for actor/singer and chamber consort inspired by the artist's series of drawings of the same title, and for the past five years, his animated film of Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale has been screened by orchestras around the world as an accompaniment to their performances.

The monograph Clive Hicks-Jenkins was published by Lund Humphries in 2011.