Mitch Griffiths: IMMORTAL 28 April – 31 May 2022 Halcyon Gallery 144-146 New Bond Street Mayfair London W1S 2PF
The first UK solo exhibition in nine years by contemporary British artist Mitch Griffiths is to open at Halcyon Gallery on London’s New Bond Street on Thursday, 28 April.
IMMORTAL will feature 28 new oil paintings, including the artist’s largest works to date: three complex, multi-figure monumental canvases. The collection has been over six years in the making and the exhibition will be Griffiths’ first since his inclusion in the seminal Realisms exhibition at the prestigious State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg in 2016.
Griffiths’ chosen title, IMMORTAL, incorporates a range of ideas and meanings which are open to interpretation. To the artist himself, the word suggests ‘something that lasts forever and can stand the test of time. I want my work to do that, I want my ideas to do that. I want to give all of my work a classical edge along with the contemporary edge – to reference the timeless and ageless quality of oil painting. And I think the title also connects with the idea that my subjects are immortalised on canvas’.
Inspired by the light and composition of the canvases of Old Master painters, Griffiths plays on the striking combination of traditional stylistic devices with contemporary subject matter. His process of creation is painstakingly time-consuming; he works alone, producing preliminary sketches from models, then builds up layers of paint in similar techniques to those employed by the likes of Caravaggio, Zurbarán and Rembrandt.
The exhibition commentary, contributed by art historian Susie Hodge, provides a detailed analysis and guide to the content and creation process of the artworks. She quotes: ‘Capturing moments that would pass in a flicker on screen, his immortal souls dwelling in mortal bodies are here held in paint, suspended for posterity. Through his explorations of human interaction and engagement, emotion and impulse, Griffiths reveals his intense and astute gaze and incisive analysis of all he sees, assimilated with an underlying edginess, a sense of courage and passion for painting, the world and life itself’.
Though his works may be described as Realist, Griffiths aim is not to recreate reality – but instead to pull the viewer into his own fantasy world, in his words: ‘My world, featuring recurring characters and a cross pollination of ideas and imagery, is mirroring the strangeness of modern times yet unclear if it is the past, present or future. In it, the mundane becomes exceptional and vice versa. It is at the edge of our imagination but, in some way, all around us’.
This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to experience the work of a true contemporary master painter. The startling canvases can only be fully appreciated in person; an astounding level of detail, mystery and surprise will both enrapture and enchant.
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