Bus stops, tram tracks, alleyways. Andy Cropper takes these ordinary, unremarkable, utilitarian places – the sorts of places we pass every day – and turns them into quietly, almost eerily beautiful oil paintings.
With his paintbrush, Andy has managed to create scenes of surprising wonder from such everyday subjects as the "welcome" sign at the entrance to an NCP car park, market stalls on King Street, the Wickes car park on Moore Street, and construction work on Bramall Lane.
The Sheffield-based artist is bringing his latest set of realist paintings to Cupola from Saturday 8th June (launch evening on Friday 7th) for the next edition of his Uncertain Spaces exhibition series – this time on the theme of Kenopsia, meaning the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.
How would you describe your work?
I'd call my style painterly realism, showing a variety of urban cityscapes, scenes and things within the shadows and street lighting of night here in Sheffield. On a first look my work appears photographic but on closer inspection it's way too painterly for the photo-flat finish usually associated with the painting style known as 'photo-realism'. I like that people can see the blobs of paint, the errors and marks made by my hand. You can see that someone's made these paintings as opposed to them being mechanically produced.
How do you choose the themes you work with?
The images I choose to paint are collected from many walks that I've done over the past few years – wandering through the city streets and looking for spaces and places seeing that somehow impinge on me. Seeing if some places or spaces have a tension (bit of a hard term to describe). Basically I'm looking for things that have something mysterious about them without knowing why. I'm not interested in beauty or something being 'cool'. It could be something strange about a light, a bus stop (I paint many bus stops), a building, a car park, anything really. These things are usually very normal and everyday but for a moment, often accentuated by the shadows and lights of night, there's something else going on. They become different. That's the point I'm interested in and I take a photo. After taking the photograph I'll consciously try not to think about what I've just seen until I start considering painting. It's a big element for me that, when I start painting, I start constructing some semblance of meaning of what's in the painting at the same time as I construct the work. To my mind it's what keeps me engaged with the work.