CHECK THE CLOCKS...
Clocks tell the same time - most of the time!
The time is 10.58pm in each artwork. However, it is possible to become confused when working in 3D space, so if a clock doesn’t have any numerals it is possible to place it upside down, or even at a 90 degree rotation. Have a picture that tells the wrong time? Now you know why! Oh, in case you were wondering why 10.58pm in particular - the answer is simple, ‘The night is yet young.’
Registration plates also have a purpose - sometimes they give the edition release number, so a 3rd edition of a Bristol artwork may have a registration plate ending in 03. Sometimes registrations are actual plates and have their own significance, and other times they contain cryptic comments. Belfast artworks tend to include political satire. Keith says he has lived there so long he has earned the right!
Get to know your characters - they all have names
Strange perhaps, but the little 3D people who star in the artworks have names. Charles and Maria are pictured above. They appear in different pictures as they travel around the world, but they are given different clothes. The ladies all get a new hairstyle - usually on the release of a new Bristol artwork, though Keith tells us he is changing their hairstyles and clothes more regularly of late. Keith also features in the artworks and has done so from the very first artwork ever published. More recently, he appears in the same clothes he was wearing the day he modelled himself in the artwork - usually jeans - really quite boring. Other times, people are doing certain things. There is always a kissing couple, or at least indulging in some form of romantic behaviour. There used to be a girl always checking her mobile, but her iPhone broke in 2018 and she hasn’t appeared for a while.
DON’T MISS FRIDA...
Frida is everywhere - or at least she will be!
We want to introduce you to Frida. In part named after Frida Kahlo, (Keith tells us he gave a university lecture on her once, but he says he wasn’t a very good lecturer). Frida also means ‘Beloved’ and ’Peace’ and these seem like positive attributes. However, Frida is something of an interloper in the 3D series. She is actually the main protagonist in the oil painted series, where she commonly features writing and drawing on objects. However, Keith wanted to play with what he calls ‘converging narratives’, so he introduced Frida into the 3D series as well. She has only so far appeared in the very latest artwork, ‘Lagan Lagoon’ but she will be coming to a city near you soon. Unsurprisingly, Frida is found drawing on walls in this latest artwork - in fact her graffiti is actually Keith’s three latest oil paintings - yet more ‘converging narrative.’
Prints of original oils
MEET FRIDA UP LARGE
Would the real Frida please stand up!
If you were reading about Frida above in the 3D section, you will already know she also occurs in the 3D artworks as well. However, she originates as a character in the oil painted series. Named, in part, on account of Frida Kahlo, one of the most important artists of the 20th century but also because the name means ‘beloved’ and ‘beautiful’.
The real story of her introduction into this series is however a little deeper. The Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, was badly injured in a bus accident but managed to transform her pain and suffering into inspiration, art and creativity. Keith’s art began with seeking to re-imagine Belfast, a city also scarred by suffering and division. His aim was to create artworks that would celebrate the city, its places and its people. This theme is now carried over into the hand-painted oil series. Frida can be found in this series as a postmodern woman of strength, character and attitude, always ready to write and graffiti any object that comes to hand, but she is always found enjoying and engaging with the cities she explores. Stylistically however, you may notice there is no connection between Frida Kahlo and Keith’s artistic style!
IT’S MESSY BUT GOOD
The use of oils
Whilst Keith has become known for his vivid 3D cityscape artworks, he has always been an oil painter ever since he was young. This new series marks a return to oil painting. He says it’s nice getting his hands messy again, but in reality, Keith enjoys the blend of creating art in both mediums. His challenge was deciding on a subject to paint now that he has become well known as an artist. He says this series has been at least five years in the making, the time being spent on planning, thinking about styles and experimentation. He wasn’t prepared to release a new series until he had met a number of standards he had set for himself. These were: the art had to be contemporary in style; they had to be strong on narrative; and they had to link to the 3D art he was known for. In the artwork, ‘Sail away’, Keith has produced a hand painted artwork that in many ways feels 3D and imitates his own buildings from his 3D series in terms of style. Another requirement Keith set was that the oil paintings had to introduce something new to the art scene rather than just be a copy of another artist. Whilst there is nothing truly new that hasn’t been done in some manner before, we think this series introduces something stylistically innovative to the art world. The originals are quite large, painted on 30x30 inch canvas, and for those who are interested, Keith likes using mediums of oleopasto, beeswax and alkyd resins mixed with his oil paints - oh, and also very fine razor brushes!
THEMES TO CELEBRATE
This new oil painted series, much like the existing 3D series, celebrates the places where people live and work. Each piece endeavours to communicate a positive and celebratory message which is uplifting. The artworks also try to capture what Keith has coined ‘retromagic’ as the artworks seek to present an escape into a retro but magical world which is still instantly recognisable. The protagonists communicate with their environments and, if you look very carefully, you will see some overlap in the paintings. Have you noticed that the aerosol used to graffiti the Shorts SD3-30 aircraft in ‘A Good Day’s Work’ also appears in the artwork ‘The Washroom Window’?
As for the shoes, which are often painted in delicate detail, these form part of the juxtaposition of the characters in their activities. For example, who wears shoes like the girl in ‘Sail Away’ to float paper boats by herself? Keith has always liked the element of surprise, therefore this narrative communicates that the subject is confident in her own space to do just what she wants. This core message forms part of the theme of the series celebrating being free and becoming emboldened to do as we wish, even if others would call it a little ‘childlike’ in manner. Keith’s message is that sometimes we need to escape the busyness of life and re-engage in a lost, childlike celebration of life, indulging in the little things that make us smile and transport us back to days when we were younger when life was always set under a summer sky.
Another stylistic approach Keith is employing, is that things which are not treated as significant to the artwork, (or to the characters featured in them), are painted in a minimalist style, almost vector-like. These are the things that may be very much part of life, but are not the main focus of the artwork. For example, trees and hedges often have very little detail and serve to only form the background environment whereas the aerosol, or a shoe buckle, may be painted with much more realism. Keith refers to this as ‘character focus transference,’ helping the viewer to see life through the eyes of the central character.
The oil series
Given that Keith is still creating artworks in 3D and working in Virtual Reality environments for various projects, the number of oil paintings produced in any one year will not be high. Originals may be purchased but they are a little more expensive than the printed series!
Here are some close-up detail photos of the oil painted series…