Andrea likes to paint brick. Not on brick, actual brick. The more textured the surface the better. It was a technique she started to work on back in her student days studying art at St. Martins and it’s evolved since then. Now, her brick paintings, when in situ, have the uncanny ability to blend seamlessly into the background. She is an artistic chameleon but in the literal sense.
It’s a theme that will feature prominently in her upcoming show ‘The Roadz‘ at the Curious Duke Gallery in Whitecross Street. It fits into her overall narrative of wanting to create an urban London based show which seems to reflect the feel of the city and actually may even go beyond that to the texture of it as well.
I first met Andrea Tyrimos last year when she was painting one of her signature brick pieces as part of the Whitecross Street Party. It was one of the first times she’d chosen to paint outside and the reaction from the public was infectious. It gave her the confidence to try new things and to keep going with her particular style. Although more naturally a studio based painter, the interaction with people watching her work combined with the textures and sounds of the environment around her must have inspired.
For her show the Roadz, she decided to get out there again and attempt to re-create a section of the streets into the gallery. Two of those pieces were created in situ on Blackall Street in Shoreditch, an edgy alleyway with a grimy feel. It’s a well known hangout for paste up artists and there’s often some gems to see so those in the know wander along it and hope to catch something new. Andrea has chosen this spot because it is so earthy, she has fixed a canvas to a wall already covered in tags and wheatpastes and her intention is to paint the scene behind so that it will blend perfectly into the surroundings.
She paints mainly with oils and each creation is a time consuming process, there are no shortcuts. She will end up revisiting the street for several days afterwards, refining the edges and blending the brick and the wall ever more perfectly into the scene behind. Some of the art she’s covering includes an original drawn ‘Hug’ character from MyDogSighs and posters from Deedee Cheriel and Mr. Farenheit. She is being entirely faithful to the originals creating a whole copy of that section of wall that will literally be just lifted up and exhibited in the gallery.
Her studio in a garage in North London is altogether less urban, accessed via a manicured lawn it has been transformed into a full working studio and as I enter, her works for the show are hanging proudly on the wall whilst one sits on it’s easel awaiting final completion. Her brick pieces from Blackall Street are there too, a little out of context from the East End of London where they blended in so naturally, now they sit stark amongst the white painted walls.
It’s a comfortable space and we speak about her influences and inspirations, she mentions Gerhard Richter as an artist she admires. Like Andrea, Richter is inspired by photography and that need to capture the real and the ordinary. Neon is another recurring theme in her art, she likes to create a hue around her images and they do seem to shimmer from the canvas. I am particularly drawn to two, a portrait of the singer Jacob Banks and a hazy view of a winter scene from inside the courtyard of the old Truman Brewery just off Brick Lane.
The Banks picture uses neon to highlight the lines of his face and serves to highlight the edges as he stares piercingly out from the canvas. Andrea was a fan of his music and a speculative series of communications resulted in Jacob sitting for his portrait. It’s a style I am instinctively drawn to, for the show it will be the only portrait on display. A lot of the images feature people but they are in context with the environment they are in, the Banks picture is very intimate.
Neon is also used to great effect with the ‘Brewery Haze’ painting as the night light from inside the courtyard illuminates the snow covered tables, the reflection from the window next to it and even the streaks of snow as it lays down it’s first coat. It’s an image I know well as it was taken by me during a late evening stroll as the snow came down in late 2012. I remember the brewery and Brick Lane was eerily quiet and it’s never eerily quiet!
Andrea had seen the picture on an Inspiring City blog post and asked to recreate it for her show. She is heavily influenced by photography and often seeks out images which she can represent in her style particularly when they are urban in tone and where the light is such that she is able to fulfill her need for neon. For this blog it was certainly a first and a real honour to be a part of the show in such a way, the resulting painting on a full metre square canvas is spectacular.
It’s not always been easy though and it still isn’t, a fire a few years ago destroyed a number of a paintings and damaged others beyond salvation. She shows me some of the scars from a few of the paintings which survived, on one a thick layer of soot can be seen, on others the ash seems to have streaked down the painting. The fire investigation team said it was a freak accident the effect though was devastating and it still clearly leaves a scar.
Andreas show, her first as a full time solo artist goes some way to erasing that difficult time and yet again the Curious Duke Gallery has not only identified a real future star but backed them to the full. The Roadz sets out to capture everyday life, what Andrea would describe as “the beauty in the ordinary”. It is the slang for the streets and they are her streets that she is capturing, the Roadz from the city she loves inspired by the city itself.
Andrea Tyrimos was interviewed at her studio in North London on Tuesday 20 May 2014 and in situ on Blackall Street as she worked on her latest ‘Brick’ pieces. The Roadz is her first solo show and will run from the 5th to the 28th June at the Curious Duke Gallery on Whitecross Street. You can learn more about Andreas BRICK project here.
Andrea Tyrimos Gallery