Friday night saw the opening of an excellent exhibition by contemporary Street Artist Andrea Tyrimos entitled ‘Bipolar Picasso’ at the 5th Base Gallery around Brick Lane. Andrea Tyrimos works in a range of mediums and as is the case here predominantly with oils, something she has even managed to utilize on the streets to astonishing effect. Originally conceived five years ago the show came into full fruition over the last year, the show ‘Bipolar Picasso’, as its title suggests, sets to draw the connection between mental illness and art, though for the purpose of this show not exclusively dealing with Bipolar disorder. The show explores subjects with a range of mental health conditions including the grips of depression, the intensity of addiction, the fear of anxiety, the ups and downs of Bipolar disorder and the delusions of Schizophrenia. Accompanying each of the striking portraits is an audio piece allowing the viewer to listen to the voice behind the subject as they relate some of their most personal and innermost thoughts to yourself as you are stood before the powerful and striking image in front. The addition of the audio recordings adding a new dynamic to portraiture in this show sets to a create sense of presence as well as identity to these otherwise invisible conditions.
Setting to break down the stigma and taboo around mental illness and demonstrate how many people are affected personally or by someone they know with mental health issues, the project is fueled by the artists personal experience; in addition to her working with young adults in crisis, the artist has several people close to her with mental health issues, who feel they are unable to be open up for fear of being judged by society. On the matter Andrea Tyrimos says:
“Portraiture can be thought of as simply representing a likeness, but I try to use the paint to marry external appearance to inner self, to try to capture the intangible mental state of each sitter. The media tends only to shed light on mental illness when it concerns a celebrity, but what about the vast numbers of ordinary people who also experience mental health issues?”
It is for this reason that the range of subjects for her portraits include members of the public being painted alongside celebrities and people in the media spotlight. In this exhibition Andrea Tyrimos is capitalizing on society’s obsession with celebrities to open the door to another perspective and make them view others in the same light, to show that we are all just people and anyone could need help and support. It is for this reason that each of the subjects are painted onto a white background and had any items of clothing or their hair in frame not coloured to show that appearance or status aside we are all just people, this could happen to anyone. Each of the pieces required Andrea Tyrimos meeting with her subjects to obtain some photographs and initial sketches as well as in order to conduct the interviews that accompany the portraits.
It is refreshing to see a show not motivated by sales potential, but purely for a good cause and all the better for being so well executed, the pieces are just so captivating, forcing you to gaze into the subject and the all so expressive dynamic Andrea Tyrimos has consistently captured in each of the works in the show, truly bringing each piece to life. This show for numerous reasons is one not to miss, it’s been a long time since we went to such an engaging and powerful exhibition and if you are London bound or based over the coming days the show can be found at 5th Base Gallery in Heneage Street off of Brick Lane and runs until Wednesday 19th October.
“Life’s a dangerous thing, none of us survive it right?” – Mark Rice-Oxley – Oil on Canvas with Audio Recording.
“My heart beating” – Puneeta Sharma – Oil on Canvas with Audio Recording.
“…and the world becomes beautiful again” – Ricky Hatton – Oil on Canvas with Audio Recording.
“Hold my hand” – Gail Porter – Oil on Canvas with Audio Recording.
“On darker nights, or lighter nights, or bright mornings” – Bill Oddie – Oil on Canvas with Audio Recording.
“Someone else, somewhere different…” – Tori Allen-Martin – Oil on Canvas with Audio Recording.
“You take a little bit of that wall away” – Alastair Campbell – Oil on Canvas with Audio Recording.
“I make sure the sun’s coming in…” – Kerry Katona – Oil on Canvas with Audio Recording.
“I’m still fighting” – Leon McKenzie – Oil on Canvas with Audio Recording.
“I put my life in God’s Hands” – Fred – Oil on Canvas with Audio Recording.
Andrea Tyrimos posing alongside a pair of her portraits for the one and only Inspiring City team.