RIOT ART GALLERY: A curated selection of art for the next generation collector

A curated selection of art for the next generation collector.

Stairs to seclusion - The quietly powerful art of Kevin Gray

InterviewsRiot Art

All Hallows' Eve is upon us so we're taking you through the foggy, almost celestial art of Kevin Gray. Working with both oil and spray paint, he depicts neglected scenes of nature and abandoned architectural structures. Poppies, bridges, stairs, and islands are all recurring motifs in his paintings. His pictures get their intensity through a mostly unidentifiable light-source and radiate a quiet power. They invite the viewer to look into a landscape of countless bridges, that that seem to go into nothingness, while the surrounding landscape has a raw character that allows the buildings and places to appear fragile. In this interview Kevin gives us deeper insight in his work, describing his inspirations from Murakami to growing up in an area where there were many heroin addicts.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME AN ARTIST?

From early age I was drawing a lot. I guess as all kids do only that I kept on doing it until today plus I started spray painting when I was in adolescence. To be honest I was for a long time, even in the first years of my studies, against calling myself an artist.

My opinion was that it cannot be that easy to just call yourself artist and then become one. I was too young, did not contribute enough to earn the title of 'artist'. So when I started participating in more shows from 2008 (which was the time when my studies at art school came to an end) and people kept on calling me 'artist' I started to accept that it is the correct description for my profession.

WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS, WHEN STARTING A NEW PAINTING?

Basically most of the works which I am doing are part of the same parallel world that I see and create to look at our 'normal' world. So I keep on collecting ideas for new paintings or drawings. Generally I am a few works ahead in planning. Still there are a lot of turbulences and unforeseen problems occurring while working. Many times I overpaint works which already have many hours of attention and patience in them. And they turn out very different than originally intended. Many pictures get lost in the process. Still, to have an unpainted canvas, wall or blank paper in front of you is one of the more rewarding moments in the studio for me.

YOUR WORKS HAVE A VERY DREAMY FEEL TO THEM, WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

Any moment in daily life could be an initial trigger to do a painting. I saw these trees which had tags on them which was very strange to me so I painted them. The other day I was coming back from a countryside trip and being back in Berlin I had the feeling of being in a labyrinth. You are not able to see far and always move in channel kind of streets. Thats how I came to paint the City Labyrinths series which is ongoing.

Sometimes my inspiration comes from reading books or seeing documentaries. The Bridgeland pictures where actually inspired by reading Hardboild Wonderland and the end of the world by Murakami. The scenes just pop up in my imagination. I guess most have this while reading. The Poppyfield series for examples was partly inspired by a documentary film I saw about opium production and how farmers were basically forced to grow poppy. After the invasion in 2001 the world food programme provided the country with so much corn that it was impossible for local farmers to sell there product. So the theme interested me a lot. As well as for coming from an area where there were many heroin addicts.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH WITH YOUR WORK AND HOW DO YOU DO THIS?

For me art is an opportunity to see something in a new light, from a different perspective. I think that my work is a success when someone has her or his own view on the world enriched, broadened, enhanced, deepened.

WHICH SUPERPOWER WOULD YOU HAVE AND WHY?

Putting my work from the easel straight into show without renting a van.

Shop Kevin's work here.

Check out his CV here.