‘Look Me In The Eye’ by Simon A Yorke
at Corke Art Gallery
1 – 26 February 2011
Simon A Yorke‘s large (5ft x 3ft) oil paintings of homeless people are brilliant, well worth close inspection. Originally timed to mark Poverty & Homeless Action Week (29 January to 6 February) the show will continue until Saturday 26 February 2011.
Artist’s Statement (via Corke Art Gallery)
I painted portraits of homeless people that I encountered outside the Tate Modern.
In an art world were the artist’s job is to challenge the status quo and be avant garde, I wanted to put an alternative perspective to an age old tradition which is reserved for the wealthy who commission portraits of people they have an emotional bond towards. I wanted to paint people who in society are classed as undesirable, who live on the outskirts of the community.
The majority of people avoid eye contact with the homeless, who beg on the streets, which is why I painted colour into the eyes. This gives a focal point to the paintings, drawing the viewer’s eye to engage with these characters. The mono-chromatic palette is representational of the urban grime these people encounter daily while they live on the streets. The paintings are raised to eye level to challenge the way we see these people, changing the perspective which they are encountered on the streets (they are normally sitting on the floor). Each painting is the same size and I painted every individual that I encountered outside the Tate so there was no discrimination and they received equality.
The goal of the art is not to make a case about homeless people but to show the reality of their humanness.