Neil Douglas is a young, yet experienced, British artist with an impressive list of exhibitions under his belt. He is known for his skilfully rendered, mixed- media representations of urban landscapes, full of the densely charged atmosphere of the modern city.
The artist has stated that he wishes to move away from ‘photo-realism’ and bring some other qualities into play. His new pieces achieve this without eschewing the intensity of observation and realisation he so values. These pictures reassemble motifs and manipulate new images to make work that is both thought provoking and visually seductive. The images of blossom are particularly affecting in their associations. They retain the aesthetic appeal of their intrinsic beauty as ‘flower paintings’, whilst at the same time reference the council planting schemes of urban deprivation. They exist in a binary world of brutality and delicacy, where flowers unexpectedly erupt from concrete.
Neil Douglas’s pictures operate in a romantic manner; the emblematic compositions evoke memories of the cycle of life, of birth, growth and decay. Their romance lies in an idea of redemption, that something effervescent can appear out of something base and unyielding: the urban landscape, the ring-road, the ‘precinct’, the ‘estate’. His images of a butterfly sunning itself on a wall or blossom, chromatically exuberant in a riot of sunlit colour, speak about possibilities and desires lurking beneath the prosaic surface of the everyday.
What we are always made aware of when looking at these pieces is their duality: soft and hard, brutal and delicate, fragile and massive. What will win out and what will remain?