In what can be described as – literally – the biggest contemporary art exhibition in the island, James Duggan’s ambitious portraits have taken over the Isle Gallery at Tynwald Mills in St John’s.
The title of the exhibition, ‘Transformer’, can be taken to mean his use of old, unloved objects – garage doors, aluminium sheets, a discarded trampoline – but it also says something about the energy which James put into the portraits on show.
And there is no doubt his accomplished use of aerosol paint gives a new life and energy to the finished work.
The sheer size of the portraits is breathtaking and fills every inch of the available space, but when you look at each one, the care and thought which James has put into them is clear.
The lines on the face of ‘Frank’ show a life well-lived, the blank canvas of ‘Seventeen’ shows an outwardly confident teenager with her life ahead of her, and his loving portrait of his three-week old niece ‘Lollipop’ has that knowing ‘old man’ look of babies everywhere.
James’s use of aerosol paint – and the size of the portraits – is a nod to street artists such as Alexis Diaz, and the growing number of street murals now cropping up around the globe.
But he is also influenced by the paintings of Lucien Freud and Jenny Saville – and it is the detail and emotion in these which is echoed in James’s art.
This work marks James out as a local artist destined for bigger things.
He said: ‘Since the exhibition opened I’ve been approached to produce a huge public mural.
‘The exact details are still under wraps but you won’t be able to miss it! And then I’m off to London for a couple of weeks to develop the street art side even further.’
That will take in social media, a whole new ‘gallery’ for his work.
He said: ‘Social media is a really important tool for anyone interested in street art, so you’ll be able to see the finished paintings on Facebook [James Duggan ART] and Instagram [leadlung_]. If you are impressed by what you see please “like” and “share” the images – I’d like my work to be seen around the world!”
James’s work has outgrown the island – Transformer wouldn’t look out of place in any major contemporary art gallery anywhere and, to do it justice, really does need to be in a bigger venue.
So if you want to catch what, on this form, will probably be James’s last major exhibition in the island for a while you’ve got until November 1 to see ‘Transformer’ at the Isle Gallery.
Don’t forget to look out for that huge mural, coming to a space near you, very soon.