The new expressionism
Ever since secretive street artist Banksy rose to international superstardom with his subversive, politically-tinged approach to ‘graffiti’, more and more young artists have focused their attention on spray paint, and the soft-focus, yet often hard-hitting messages it can portray.
One such artist, who uses oil and spray paint on canvas to create his vast colourful works inspired by billboards and eroding walls – one of which will be on display at No.15 – is Bath Spa University graduate James Blagburn.
“This piece was the focal point of a series of paintings I have created in the past nine months,” explains James. “The group of paintings were inspired by a combination of a trip I took to Berlin and growing up in central Bristol. The remains of the Berlin wall are covered in graffiti and murals, as are many walls in Bristol. Rather than being attracted to the actual street art created, I am drawn to the areas of the walls that are weathered and eroded and create a rich textural quality with layers of bright primary colour coming to the surface.
“I would describe myself as an abstract expressionist painter. I am attempting to strike a balance between abstraction and literal representation, playing with the distinction between reality and painting.
So how did his love for art and this particular medium first come about?
“I was living with a friend who was an art student at the time and he encouraged me to paint on a spare canvas he had,” says James. “The stipulation was that I couldn’t use a brush to paint, which encouraged me to think creatively of how to paint using various utensils. I quickly developed a passion for painting, which led me to enroll on an art and design foundation course in Bristol, before going on to study fine art at Bath Spa University.”
Those drawn to James’s work can see more at the Bargehouse Gallery in the Oxo Tower on the Southbank in London from the 28 to 31 July. More locally, this painting can be seen in the Best of the South West exhibition at Trowbridge Town Hall from 28 July to 27 of August and his work will be involved in an event hosted by Verve Living on the London Road in Bath in the autumn. He’ll also be displaying a selection of works at Kingswood School from September until December.