“My work is sort of a soundtrack to my life.”
For the British born photographer turned artist who currently resides in the United States, Russell Young’s near death experience with the H1N1 flu virus in2010 saw him complete his break from the photographic medium.
After leaving the Exeter Art College Young became a celebrity photographer in the music industry working with such notables as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, George Michael and David Bowie amongst others. He also directed over a 100 music videos for MTV before moving on to make his own work.
As he explained in and ArtNet video interview “I have been painting my own paintings for maybe 10 or 20 years. Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to be an artist. So as the jobs got more corporate and less creative; I think that’s perhaps why I fell out of love with the music industry. There was just no creativity any more. It’s all about just selling one person’s view point of it and it was normally the Marketing Director who normally had everything wrong.”
After a month’s contemplation in Tuscany the 40-year-old Young decided to make his own work. Working within the silk screen process Young used found photographs with a mug shot aesthetic to create his Pig Portrait series; his first critically acclaimed works. This was followed by his Fame + Shame series; a portrait of America as seen through the eyes of a working-class English youth. This was followed by his Dirty Pretty Things series were he added diamond dust to his prints.
After recovering from his near death experience in 2010 Young moved on to using a wide variety of mediums to create works that explore masculinity.
As he says “I’m using linen oil/enamel, I’m using in a sense iron, seawater and rain to create the paintings. It’s all about the process, they’re very big, dark, masculine in the sense from being sick, being so frail. I’ve really embraced the masculinity of painting and being a male painter.”
The current exhibition of his work Forever Young: A Retrospective is on show at Florida’s Polk Museum of Art until the 27th of March.