The Battersea-based artist specialises in photo-realism, using ballpoint pens on paper, and is considered a pioneer in his field. This December, he will present A Decade of Shady Business, a solo exhibition in Mayfair celebrating ten years of his innovative ballpoint art and unveiling a series of new works that address themes and issues close to his heart.
For the show, Mylne has painstakingly recreated the current British Prime Minister in the guise of arch-villain The Joker in a nod to the new Joaquin Phoenix blockbuster. He says, "The whole Brexit thing is a bit of a bad joke...but like the Joker, I believe there is a sadistic side to Boris beneath all the foolishness."
Meanwhile, a damning portrayal of Brazilian PM Bolsonaro sees the controversial world leader captured with the flames of the Amazon pouring from his eyes. "During the worst of the recent Amazon fires, I lost sleep thinking about Bolsonaro's attitude towards it all," says Mylne. "It seemed quite evil to me."
Using a standard Bic ballpoint pen (or biro), James can spend up to 300 hours creating his beautiful detailed black and white drawings, often combining the careful use of spray paints to add colour backgrounds and additions.
"Ballpoint pens are everywhere," says Mylne. "Scattered over desks at work or school, on counters at your post office or bank, and under your sofa. No one owns them really, ubiquitous, disposable, and pretty much free. The simple engineering and design behind them is so efficient and durable that they haven't needed a design change in decades.
"I remember the moment, aged about 15 or 16 when I figured out how to use them for creating soft tones and effective shading. It was a bit of a eureka moment. Up to that point, I'd loved using the pens, but it was mostly just for sketchbook work. It made satisfyingly sharp, bold lines, crisp outlines and comic-like graphics and imagery."
Although he often works from old photographs to create his fine drawings, James has also collaborated with famous photographers such as Terry O'Neill, ex Rolling Stones guitarist Bill Wyman and Roger Eaton.
Influenced by urban and contemporary art, Mylne's work has been exhibited alongside street art legends such as Shepard Fairey, D*Face, Banksy, Mr Brainwash, and YBA artists like Damien Hirst and Gavin Turk.
A Decade of Shady Business by James Mylne opens on 12 December 2019 at Fitzrovia Gallery, 139 Whitfield Street, London. Find out more at www.jamesmylne.co.uk.
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