Canadian artist Drew Young’s practice includes murals and canvas paintings that seem an admixture of dynamic energy, and infused light and abstracted forms. Young’s fluidity between mediums and materials is balanced by a command of the formal principals of the picture plane and an invigorated and energetic sense of movement, design and palette.
The artist notes that he has always been creative whether it was the dissembling and resembling of objects as a young child or making drawings while living on Vancouver Island. Early studies began at the Victoria College of Art, a place the artist described as a gutted century-old boarding school inhabited by ghosts. During this time, he felt increasingly unable to relate to the painting he saw in galleries and wondered if in fact there might another way to find an outlet for his creative ideas and he began focusing on applied arts. Eventually Young became involved in mural painting and this allowed him to be part of not only the local life but as well connect to a dynamic and non-traditional community of other artists and creatives.
Tremor, Skookum Festival
The artist’s painterly interest in the botanical begins with a tendency to turn to nature as a place of escape from daily life and even the rigor of studio practice. Young’s process is one of research and evolving design and composition. He starts with the photography of a flower (whether living or silk), followed by the building of the picture in Photoshop. All this happens before the artist begins his work on the easel which in turn will often include both oil and acrylic paint.
In these pictures, Young cleverly takes elements of design and abstraction and creates a tension with the sense of the hyper real, adding to this a virtuositic command of composition, light and color. Paintings such as Specter (2017), Splinter and Pyre (2019) place reimagined high-fidelity views of flowers against nocturnal backgrounds creating a contrast and sense of other worldly illumination. Still other paintings use a white background and brighter tones such as Fissure (2018) which is imbued with a bold delicacy.
Recent works such as Helix and Mantel (2019) seem to take a more experimental approach with magnified areas of flowers, revealing the extraordinary and often strange forms found in nature. It can be observed that some of this contemporary artist’s works resemble the approach of combining abstraction and pattern with super realist detail like we see in the work of the late American Pop artist James Rosenquist. However, it also must be said that Young’s work has its own distinctive character and displays a remarkable technical achievement that moves beyond artistic models.
In fact, Young’s talent and ability to work in both in small or traditional formats and as well on a monumental scale has translated into a new series of murals in Vancouver and beyond, distinguished by the artist’s characteristic delineation of space and movement.
The 2018 Flutter mural project at Capilano University, Vancouver integrates the bold modernist lines of the architecture created with the use of wet on wet rollers, giving the surface the look of an alla prima oil painting. White lines intersect the vividly colored pink flowers and the blue background as if a calligraphic signature.
As well, the 2018 mural Quiver was an important project for the artist. Located close to his studio, this was the largest completed by Young. It was commissioned by Brandlive and presented a special challenge as the surface was stucco with broken glass. This meant the entire image had to be sprayed, and Young had to worked in a new medium – aerosol. This project takes the element of abstraction one step further, creating a pictorial scene of imagery and color that seems to fragment into constellations of light and pattern across the building surface.
When asked about his artistic outlook Young shares some quite practical and inspiring advice: “Make something ‘new’; create honestly; don’t be shy and always seek challenges. The contemporary art world waits for the next creation of this accomplished artist. Whether a mural or traditional painting, Drew Young’s vision is one of great splendour and ingenuity.
You may learn more about Drew Young on the artist’s website. All images are the sole copyright of the artist.