Alexander Guy

The Crib | 1992

Oil on canvas

Alexander Guy paints loo rolls, ashtrays, and iced buns as vividly as artists used to paint vases of flowers, bowls of fruit and glasses of wine. He paints what he calls the ‘tacky realism’ of modern life  The urgency and stark freshness in his work doesn’t spring from a sense of loss or separation but from an appetite for life, a hunger to see everything as clearly as he can while he can. 

His life in art has been a roller coaster ride , from Scotland to London, to America to the South of France, picking up popular culture wherever he goes, to a backtrack of the music heard in bars.  He paints where people are, the worlds ordinary folk inhabit.  In a recent project, he took over a unit in a shopping centre in Glenrothes, Scotland, and worked in public, with people  free to come in and discuss what he was doing, which they gladly did, and he found much of what they said inspiring.  He gave classes in drawing, and built up a considerable following, making art genuinely for the people and with the people.

In another project, he painted the locals in a London East End drinking den, called the Conqueror, and took them all to see the exhibition of his portraits of them (some of his finest) in the Castello de Rivara inTurin. He’s not been asked to exhibit there again....yet.

The brightness in Guy’s art springs, in part, from his appetite for social abrasion , but it’s also the flipside of a bleaker streak, his loathing of oppression, of the straightjackets we put on our minds, in our sexual, social and spiritual expectations.  The dark edges that creep around his everyday objects, his houses and his faces, the very shadows that makes them glow with vigour and light, are manifestations of the horror he has of the cages in which we trap our natures, the tortures we inflict on ourselves and others, tortures that, as he knows full well, can be born in the cradle.  His bold generosity of spirit springs from the sharp dig of pain.

For more information please visit Alexander’s website:

Cranhill | 2011

Oil on canvas