Steve May and Polly Hollyoak are two painters who combine forty years’ experience in signwriting or kustom detailing, and this technical expertise in old-school trade work strongly informs their art practice.
After a series of portraits exploring his relationship with those around him, Steve May’s painting has moved in a new direction. Freed from resemblance and figurative accuracy, he is playing with subject and colour with a loose, unencumbered style. Brushstrokes are front and centre, used as savage outlines with a kinetic, pop sensibility. Industrial colours are hyper-vivid. Steve’s military background gives him an insight into a world few of us have experienced – military hardware has never looked so fun, so toy-like. His lurid colours and bold brushwork present us with work that is both thought provoking and very appealing.
Straddling the boundaries between pop and abstraction, Polly Hollyoak’s work explores colour and pattern and highlights the volume and cacophony of imagery to which we are incessantly exposed. Polly’s background in signwriting informs her choice of subject, tools and painting techniques; through cropping, juxtaposition and layering images are transformed, and the distinction between the real and the representational dissolves away. As a female artist, she is particularly drawn to the imagery used in the marketing of products towards women. Her palettes are vivid, but sensual, and remind us that we are subjects of the deliberately-heightened seductive, graphic language of the material world.