Enlightenment (The British Museum)

Exhibition: Artist:

Michael Alford | Oil on Panel | 24 x 24 inches

Michael Alford is a British figurative artist known for an expressive painting style that fuses classical technique with a modern sensibility. He lives and works in London.

Michael’s painting is diverse, reflecting his interest in a range of different subjects and ways of seeing. He paints contemporary cityscapes, street scenes, landscapes, nudes, figures and portraits. He is also a muralist and war artist.

Michael’s first training came from his father, who taught him to draw in perspective from a young age. After a period in the Royal Marines, Michael read Spanish and Arabic at Durham University. Later he studied art at the Slade School and the Chelsea School of Art.

Michael shows widely in number of London galleries and across the UK, as well as in Europe and the United States. He sells his work internationally and has paintings in several private and public collections, including the National Army Museum. His decorative murals feature in homes, restaurants, hotels, palaces and public spaces around the world.

Michael has won prizes including the Stanley Grimm Prize 2017 from the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Green and Stone Oil Painting Prize, the Agnes Reeve Memorial Prize for best painting of London, and the Prima Luce Mural prize. He is a former council member of the Chelsea Arts Society. In 2017 he appeared in SkyArts Landscape Artist of the Year.

He has been an official war artist for the British Military on three occasions. In 2011 and 2013 he accompanied troops to Helmand Province, Afghanistan. In 2016, a third commission took him to Iraq.

Painting for me is recapturing the experience of seeing, without being too literal-minded about what that experience is or means.

My work always starts with direct observation of the visible world. It can be broad and sweeping, as in landscapes or cityscapes, or very close and intimate, as in figures, nudes or interiors. I often go out looking for subjects and return to the studio with sketches or drawings. These I use as a starting point for a process that turns raw observation, impressions, into something more abstract and evocative.

The process often involves cutting out visual distractions and transient effects so that the resulting image has more power. Time acts as an important filter for me and so does physical distance between the initial sketch and the painting. Both help me distil the memory and pick out the essential forms.

My overall aim is to communicate my experience of seeing, to convey—through the use of light and shadow and mood—some of the magic and mystery I feel when I look at the world.“ Michael

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