Adrian Sykes

5 Oct 2016 – 29 Oct 2016

Event times

Mon - Fri 10-6 (Thurs 10-8) Sat 11-5

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Curwen & New Academy Gallery

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Goodge Street
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Paintings with a surreal edge by Adrian Sykes


Throughout this collection of new works by Adrian Sykes, recurrent themes and motifs are seen. Many include a house of some sort, whether perched on top of a cliff, or anchored far out at sea. In other works a towering castle sits majestically by a lake or a lonely igloo lies amongst trees in a snowy landscape.

Each of these dwellings are representative of a home, a place of connection to someone. Set in surreal or fantasy worlds, that at once feel both unknown and yet also familiar as if reminiscent of a childhood story. Sykes’ paintings have a strong sense of narrative surrounding them and his imagery evokes an idea of a journey being made to or from these places, by the presence of a boat nearby, a figure approaching, or by a ladder or flight of steps waiting to be climbed.

With most of the works comes a feeling of joy and happiness. Sykes’ incorporation of humour and quirkiness, along with bright and rich colour gives the work a lightness and optimism and the artist describes how he aims to capture a “sense of hopefulness and peace”.

Yet there is also an unnerving presence of a darker element within Sykes’ work. Whilst the house alone on the top of a cliff might be someone’s dream home or sanctuary as in ‘Cove’, its setting is one of isolation, and inconceivable impracticality or extreme effort to reach, or to escape from. In ‘Cliffhouses’, a treacherously long ladder must be climbed to pick the fruit at the top of a tree. The residents in ‘Island’ need to cross a terrifyingly high bridge to get to the other side of a bleak stone walled dwelling. Sykes use of scale creates these perils with high walls, tiny windows, elongated ladders, towering cliffs, tall trees, and long winding paths.

These elements combined are equally as happy and playful as they are laced with uncertainty, arduous travelling, restriction and possibly also loneliness. Some may be a more likely setting for a dark fairy-tale than one that ends happily ever after, but it is this openness to interpretation of his work which makes this such a powerful collection of paintings.

Born in 1970 in Merseyside, Adrian moved to the South West to study at Bath College of Fine Art. He has lived in Merseyside, Ireland, Yorkshire and is now permanently based in Bristol yet still travels extensively, on a quest for new inspirations.

Adrian is an artist of Jamaica Street Studios, a thriving Bristol Artist community. Being at the centre of creative activity in the city continously drives his work. Adrian has had several solo exhibitions of his work and particpated in numerous group exhibitions across the UK.

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Adrian Sykes


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