Contemporary Artist, Lillian Gray, has just returned from London, where she was invited as the only South African artist to exhibit her work alongside artists from all over the globe at the Parallax Art Fair. Held in Chelsea over the weekend, her participation is somewhat poignant as the event is exactly what she stands for as an artist; producing art that is emotionally intriguing with a universal appeal, for all to enjoy.
This particular art fair is managed by artists and designers with a unique approach to the idea of art – that there are no barriers or expectations about how much you need to know about art and design to enjoy the works. With boutique editions in New York, Miami and Los Angeles the fair is quietly pioneering ideas that is said to eventually influence the way we all think about art in the future.
Lillian is renowned for her contemporary portraiture executed in contrasting colours – using a subdued palette with bursts of exciting colour combinations. She describes her art as, “made with genuine skill and craftsmanship – an investment of enduring value”, something she is very proud of.
As an artist, she has always placed a high value on being a global citizen, dedicated to the wellbeing of the planet and all its ethnicities and cultures. She has always had a keen interest in anthropology and believes that we are all here on this planet to help each other and work towards a better future. As an artist, she believes when you paint a face in blue, green or purple, the work transcends demographics. It’s no longer a “white” person or a “black” person on the canvas, in many cases it transcends race, even gender.
Her work has been internationally recognized by prestigious art authorities and this past exhibition is one of three Lillian has agreed to participate in this year. In April, she will be travelling to New York, for her first solo exhibition and later this year she can be found at the Florence Biennial (Italy).
Both the London and New York exhibitions have been an interesting challenge, the two having very different requirements.
The Parallax London Art Fair recommendation was to produce smaller works in bright colours that would appeal to “colour starved” Londoners with smaller spaces/homes. In contrast, her New York works are to be large works of art, much bigger than she has ever worked on before.
She describes the process as being physical and expressive, drawing from raw emotion. She comments, “Everything came together, my personality, skills and values and inspiration came bursting through. A bright feast for the eye exploded on the canvas. Bold yellows, oranges, pinks and purples collided and combined into haunting faces”.
Lillian draws inspiration from a variety of sources. Qualities which she values and appear throughout her work are themes of identity, the value of relationships and people’s personal stories. She draws inspiration from artists such as Irma Stern, Toulouse-Lautrec and Lucian Freud and from her favourite art movements, German Expressionism and Impressionism.
Press Release written by Michelle Swanepoel