Sean Durkin: Art for All!

York Fine Arts is delighted to present ‘Sean Durkin: Art for All!’, its second annual solo exhibition of original paintings by contemporary British artist Sean Durkin. A resounding declaration of the populist nature of fine art, Sean’s paintings shine a light on Britain’s industrial past and its proud working people. Brimming with grit and wry humour, his work tells the stories of ordinary people, readjusting our gaze and rightly offering the myriad pleasures of fine art back, into the hands of all.

Sean’s paintings, while grounded in the realities of industrial life, are also light of heart and filled with playful feats of irony. Entwining narratives see droves of ‘matchstick people’ trudging through worlds of imposing, brutalist shapes, while mischief-making characters and their foils unfold all around. In combining these subtle contrasts and striking, forbidding compositions, Sean guides the eye through a scene, encouraging the viewer to contemplate the lives and resilience of the people held within.

Sean’s work echoes the now infamous tale of how as a small boy, he once came face to face with a stolen L.S Lowry painting on his very own mantlepiece. Taken by his father from the local gallery the night before, the painting was held ransom in the family home with a letter of conditions for its safe return. Among a host of playful stipulations, including the installation of a better gallery alarm system and the raffling of the Lord Mayor’s underpants for charity, Sean’s father demanded that the art gallery open on a Sunday, so that the working man had leisure to visit. It may have been a sensational stunt, but the message, like that of Sean’s work was clear: Art is for all.

Gallery Director Philip Short says, “Sean masterfully resurrects and honours tales of British heritage with wit, warmth and a generous sense of community pride. To collect his work is to share in that heritage, paying homage to the past while celebrating the reach and bearing of contemporary art in the here and now.”

From the earliest days of his career, Sean Durkin has captivated the art world with his atmospheric scenes of working life and intriguing character portraits. Having gained a loyal and ever-growing following, his work has become some of the most popular and sought-after contemporary art collected in the UK today, highly prized by his collectors. With paintings now hanging in public and private collections across the country, it is with delicious irony that Sean’s work is now displayed in the prestigious Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, next to the very L.S. Lowry painting his father stole all those years ago.

The exhibition opens at York Fine Arts on Friday, 9th of June and runs until Sunday, 2nd of July. Due to an expected high volume of interest, we recommend an early viewing to avoid disappointment. Preview catalogues will also be available upon request

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