London’s Dark Underbelly

Renowned Artist Lincoln Townley Exhibits New Collection At The Royal Academy

UK based artist Lincoln Townley is well known for figurative paintings, and can count many renowned art collectors and influential figures as fans of his work. Having created electrifying portraits of Hollywood stars such as Russell Brand, Gary Oldman, and Robert Downey Jr. to name a few, his collections are celebrated and presented globally.

On October 22nd, Townley will be displaying his latest collection of works, W1, at the prestigious Royal Academy. “He is an outstanding artist with a unique style that sets him apart from his contemporaries,” Mayumi Tomita of the Royal Academy remarked. The W1 Collection is a set of striking, chaotic images exploring the underbelly of Central London, an area typically portrayed in a positive, aspirational light. The harsh contrasts and aggressive style evoke a plethora of emotions, telling a story of despair and pain to the viewer.

We spoke with Townley to find out more about his upcoming exhibition.

The Plus: You are often described as a “success story” within the art world. How do you measure success and do you still feel there is room for growth?
Lincoln Townley:
My success is based on three very important points – first, determination to push for what I want out of my art career;
second, the talent to paint work which is appreciated and collected by my clients and third (as with anything) – luck, although I do believe we create most of our luck by persevering.

TP: Could you talk us through the concept for the W1 collection?
It is simple – I believe there is a darkness in all men which drives the actions he does, at whatever cost to himself and others around him. I have this seen first-hand in the streets of London’s West End.

TP: Your work is beautifully vibrant, yet also has a darker tone. What kinds of emotions were you trying to capture through this use of colour?
The darkness in the W1 collection comes from my desire and passion to look at the behaviour of man during the night time in London’s West End. The use of bright colours light up the subject so the viewer has a better chance of understanding the pain I paint with man’s desire to consume – this is the key to my W1 collection; depicting man’s eternal need to want more from life and sometimes reaching a very dark place to get it!

TP: You have been commissioned to paint portraits of many celebrities and renowned individuals, and have received high praise for your work. How does it feel to have influential figures pay their respects for your art in this way?
I study my subjects to such an extent that I feel like they are in the studio with me watching me paint them. It’s a surreal experience which I love and can only feel honoured that so many renowned individuals want me to show them what I see as an artist.

TP: Would you say your approach to your art has changed over the years?
My work is always developing and shifting; the more I paint, the more my emotions and energy expands, leaving me with endless ideas for creating new & more powerful collections.

TP: What’s next for Lincoln Townley? Do you have any other projects/ideas you are looking to explore on the way?
My next project is my ‘Las Vegas Collection’. This group of 15 paintings looks at man’s desire to gamble and take huge risks. I have already started painting them and they are vibrant beyond belief, grasping every neon light and distorted crazed face in the realm of a magical yet dangerous environment – the ‘casino’. This Collection will be shown at The Wynn Casino Las Vegas in 2016.