Southampton artist James Earley presents emotionally charged portraits of homeless people in his new foyer exhibition ‘Hyper-realism’ opening tomorrow at Southampton City Art Gallery
James challenges viewers to see beyond our preconceptions of homelessness and invites us to discover the individual and the story of each of his subjects. This sensitive and moving body of work connects us to the human behind the painting so we might stop and rethink about homelessness in our society.
Visitors to the exhibition can also find out about the work Southampton City Council does with partner organisations across the city to support street homeless people and enable local residents to connect rough sleepers with our team of outreach workers. Remember to pick up a leaflet about the Street Support Action Group, which is funded by Southampton City Council and Go! Southampton, in collaboration with city faith groups, hostel providers and statutory agencies. More information is available here: streetsupport.net/southampton/
James Earley is one of the UK’s leading hyper-realism artists, currently painting out of the Arches Studios in Southampton, which is all the more remarkable since James is a self-taught artist.
From this body of work James has been nominated for the BP award, The Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the The Royal Institute of Portrait Painters, culminating in his work being displayed at the Mall Gallery in the heart of London. His success has continued into 2019 after winning the London Bieannale in this summer.
James first came to prominence in 2013 when he was chosen to be a part of The Art Investors acclaimed 2013 “Seven Artists Exhibition”, held at London’s Strand Gallery. It focused on seven of the very best international young artists.
James’ portrayal of famous musicians was much publicised. His work took another route in 2015 with his powerful and emotional studies of homeless people, victims of war and religious martyrs. For this he was nominated for the BP award, The Royal Institue of Oil Painters and The Royal Institute Of Portrait Painters culminating in his work being displayed at the Mall Gallery in the heart of London. His success has continued into 2019 after winning the London Biennale in the summer of this year.
James Earley has thus emerged as one of the foremost pioneers of figurative painting in Britain today, a fact all the more remarkable since James is a self-taught artist.
“I have often been asked why I paint homeless people or people on an emotional knife edge. From a very early age I had always wanted to paint a homeless person, I do not know why, why would a young boy want to sketch a homeless person rather than a still life, a landscape or a portrait of someone that they know? I firmly believe there are some questions that you cannot answer, sometimes your heart tells you something and you just have to follow it no matter where it takes you. This is how I feel. When I paint a still life or any other subject my heart is not there, there is no emotion yet when I paint a person that has the misfortune of constantly having to walk on a cliff‘s edge and whose emotions are stretched to the limit my heart beats faster, my emotions fight with the image, the image is the subject and it is me. I have been told by many to change subject matters to those that would look nice on someone’s wall. I do not want to.
When someone purchases one of my paintings they are purchasing a bit of me, a canvas battleground of emotion. This is my calling. I have met some of the nicest and true people that I have ever met on the streets, people who smile and laugh when their physical and emotional pain almost forbids them. If I can raise awareness of this issue through my art then I am a truly happy man as I have achieved what I was told to do.”
James Earley 2019