The Promised Land Press Release

1 Apr 2010

There will be 25 new paintings by Mitch Griffiths on display at Halcyon Gallery, 24 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London from 29 April - 31 May 2010.

Griffiths uses a traditional, almost forgotten style of painting, inspired by the light and composition of Old Master paintings, but he uses this style to depict the issues concerning 21st-century British society. His main subject is the transient and throwaway nature of contemporary culture, which is held in stark contrast to the permanence and indelibility of oil paint on canvas.

Griffiths says: “Once you paint a MacDonald’s burger box in oil paint, it becomes important and immortal. It’s a permanent mark of the disposable.”

This exhibition references 21st-century Britain and, taking the Union Jack as the recurring theme, it explores the inflammatory nature of what the flag represents alongside what Griffiths perceives to the overriding concerns of today’s society: consumerism and self-obsession followed by the need for redemption.

These large-scale oil on canvas portraits depict disturbing scenes of modern life with often alarming realism and candour. The Muse is Dead takes the classical image of the muse and immediately unsettles any preconceptions the viewer may have of this historic figure. The muse, who is being simultaneously cradled and grabbed by two paparazzi and a surgeon, deals with the ephemeral nature of celebrity and the shortening attention span of a society which idolises a person or an object one minute and quickly discards it the next.

The Flag Bearer’s Daughter depicts a girl wrapped in the British flag with a distressed yet defiant air.  The viewer can only speculate as to what kind of trauma she has endured and whether the black marks on her face are smudged makeup or in fact the remnants of war paint. Is the flag providing a comfort or was it the cause of the suffering? Perhaps the girl is a personification of Britain? Patriotism is a subject which fascinates Griffiths – his particular concern is the widespread discrepancy between what people perceive it to be and what it actually is.

The iconographic composition of Consumption, which shows a man preparing to hang himself while holding Tesco bags filled with empty plastic bottles, draws the mind to notions of sacrifice and religion. On his face an expression of rapture suggests that he is looking forward to relinquishing the trappings of material life.

Mitch Griffiths is one of the UK’s most accomplished artists whose captivating and expressive portraits have been widely recognised through art prizes including the BP Portrait Award. His remarkable talent has attracted an international following with celebrity portrait commissions and sell-out shows.

Paul Green, president of Halcyon Gallery said: “Mitch’s long-awaited show this spring is an important punctuation in his career. It builds up to the Iconostasis exhibition in 2012, which will include portraits of famous faces including Ray Winstone and Keira Knightley and which is set to  be a blockbuster show.”