From graffiti to street art: Artist says painting ‘sorts out the chaos in my head’
The West London-raised artist began spraying trains as a 12-year-old, before starting to paint professionally in his mid-twenties for big brands and TV – including Big Brother.
The show in Camden High Street will include arrest warrants, letters from the youth offending team, and pictures of early graffiti as an “honest and open introduction to my life as an artist.”
Having experienced depression first hand, he is passionate about spreading awareness of mental health issues, and says his art takes the muddled chaos in his head and twists it into function and form.One of the artworks which will go on show in Camden (Image: Courtesy of Arthur)
“I was always an anxious kid,” he says. “I get it from my mum’s side. She was a single mum who worked most of the time so I was out getting into trouble by the time I was 12. I’d be out most nights painting graffiti, hiding in bushes waiting for the trains to pull up. Getting chased by police, dodging high speed trains, and trying to not get nicked which was way too much anxiety for a teenager to know how to cope with.”
Mental health he says “wasn’t a mainstream topic like it is now”.
“We didn’t know any better, but it got too much for a lot of people. I’ve lost more friends to suicide than I care to count over the years, even friends went to jail and took their own lives because they couldn’t think of any other way out. When I lost my father to suicide a few years ago it was one of the hardest things to wrap my head around. So I started painting more abstract works that helped me deal with the complicated thoughts I was having.”
The abstract works are characterised by bold shapes, vibrant colour and clean lines (Image: Courtesy of Arthur)
He had always found art therapeutic, but it took on a fresh role.
“It was starting to make real sense. I could untangle the confusion and chaos in my head and make beautiful pieces of art. Essentially transforming negative into positive.”
Then while doing art workshops for Kids on The Green, a charity working with children affected by the Grenfell tragedy, he realised: “This was my way of healing, and my mental health has gone from strength to strength.”One of the artworks on show in Who The F***k is Arthur? (Image: Courtesy of Arthur)
Over a 20 year career, his large-scale murals have appeared at Miami Art Basel, and his work – featuring vibrant colours, bold shapes and clean lines – appears in five UK group shows this year.
He describes the solo show at the gallery in Camden High Street as “an intimate journey from graffiti writer to contemporary artist”.
“The pieces all have elements of my dreams my fears, my wins and my losses. I will also be showing excerpts of letters from the youth offending team, my arrest warrants, and my old graffiti pics as an honest and open introduction to my life as an artist.”
Who the F**K is Arthur? runs at Camden Open Air Gallery, 216 Camden High Street, NW1 from June 9-30. On June 17 Arthur will be at an in-store live art event creating 10 original pieces. https://www.camdenopenairgallery.com/