“To me, magazine covers on newsagents’ shelves are like decapitated heads.”
The British painter Mitch Griffiths depicts the icons of today in a realist style that mimics that of the old masters.
As he told the Unfolded Magazine’s Nardip Singh “Caravaggio for light and Rubens for compositions… I want the paintings to look real, but I particularly don't want them to look like a photo, not to be super detailed, but there should be detail in paint. I want it to still have the identity of an oil painting. If it is too detailed, you almost get a deadening CGI effect. I want to maintain an organic quality."
After studying graphic design at the South Devon College and illustration at the Southampton Institute, Griffiths’ 1994 portrait of the boxer Chris Eubank so impressed its subject that Eubank employed the artist to produce promotional material for his fights. An avid boxing fan Griffiths also became the artist in residence at boxing promoter Terry Johnson’s luxury retreat and sometime boxing camp, Hystyns.
With the production of over 100 paintings during this time Griffiths refined his style through the study of the works of the old masters, immersing himself in their culture and history.
About which the writer Philip Wright has said “His pictorial language is not so much old-fashioned as reborn out of the pervasive and at times almost pornographic vividness and in-your-face quality of much of our current visual culture.”
With the choice of his entry in National Portrait Gallery’s BP Portrait Award for the exhibition’s promotion Griffiths’ career received a further boost.
As he told Dazed Digital “In 2001 my self-portrait was chosen for the advertising campaign for the exhibition. In terms of exposure, it was better than 1st prize. I exhibited in the exhibition a couple more times. This is where Paul Green and the Halcyon Gallery approached me.”
Having moved on from pugilism, Griffiths now shadow boxes the social issues of modern life in his quasi-religious paintings. Ranging from commercial branding to patriotism, from social inclusion and exclusion to conflict, Griffiths invites gallery patrons to view his reality.
As he told the Combustus Magazine “Art can be a medium for escape and take you on wonderful journeys, for both artist and viewer. However, it must have the resonance of reality to truly connect (and I don’t mean realist; it can be any style, any medium). There needs to be gravitas. The best work is monumental, not ornamental.”
Griffiths’ current exhibition Enduring Freedom is on show at London’s Halcyon Gallery until the 28th of November.