Craig Wylie is presenting a series of head paintings based upon people he knows. Through a process of rigorous painterly investigation of his own formal studio photographs, his paintings become something different, something altogether more organic and human. A sort of beguiling coagulation in paint, a compote of intrigue greater than simple, mechanical, photo realism.
Wylie states that he "believes in the transformative power of painting. That it still has the capacity to move people, to breakdown temporal normality and extend the senses beyond the picture plane, to thoroughly intoxicate the viewer and bring them back to reality enriched." The startling sense of presence in Wylie's work reflects this belief and comes from having spent years painting directly from life. He is able to extract from his photographs the subjects buried within and bring them to life with a unique painterly touch and extraordinary sense of colour.
Wylie says of painting large heads, "I liked the idea of the head being body height, corpulent. As I'd removed the body so increasing the head size as if it had ingested it's own body seemed like a good idea." The large scale of some of the paintings reinforces this physicality and removes the work from normal perception.
Working directly from a laptop screen, he combines both the incidental light of photography and the actual light passing through the images he works from, giving his paintings an unusual depth and clarity of light and colour. The complex visual play between surface and subject, the sense of ingrained time through the application of many layers of paint over a long period seem to create an uncanny sense of the still figures imminent movement. The subjects depicted seem to have an actual presence, sometimes haunting, in confluence with the viewers own. This may be due to the symbiotic relationship between paint and subject, each pushing the other in a constant jostle which seems to be the perpetual life in stillness that good paintings have.
Amongst other prizes, Wylie won the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery, London in 2008.