Thursday 19 July 2012

Urbane Urban: Byroglyphics

Byroglyphics. A pseudonym so incurably urban I can just taste the grit grind inside my mouth. Russ Mills, the man behind the mask, exceeds the label 'artist'. He has that kind of ungodly talent; you know, the sort that will disillusion any budding painter into depression and bring them to the sensible conclusion: Give up. Yeah, that kind. This guy is someone who actually deserves the traditionally pretentious appraisal that an artist's work "transcends" something. Because Mills does.  

The fact is, Mills is like this untouchable, fully autonomous, self-commodified brand. He has a unique aesthetic identity which you could spot a mile off in the hazy mist of teeming aerosol-wielding graffiti artists. When I discovered that his work is a fusion of fine art with photography and digital experiments, I breathed a sigh of relief: I got some solace in the reassurance that Mills was indeed human like the rest of us.

That said, it's all still bloody staggering stuff. With the nauseating reality of Photoshop appearing to take over the world as we know it, Mills has responded with a sophisticated, even elegant style that appeases the best of both worlds without totally conceding to the superficial one. His artistic skill is firmly in tact, not compromised by the "need" for, or reliance on image manipulating software; it rather functions as a polishing tool to make his finished pieces look coma-inducingly good.

On a personal note, I'm obsessed with his distorted, manic arrangement (do I spy an oxymoron?) of lines in his portraits. At first sight you may wonder whether this is just a quick mishmash of paint, but look closer and these are expertly handled, beautifully explosive "painting disasters", to quote Mills himself - the kind of 'good accidents' we crave as artists.

The trick with Mills is that his work alludes to many elements: not just fine art, but photography, illustration, graphic art, promotion, and beyond. Mills has a colossal army of followers, and it's no surprise why. He's got it all: purity of skill and digital capabiltiies that would make him thrive in pretty much any creative environment - not that I can see him working for Saatchi & Saatchi any time soon.

Mills is currently selling a bunch of signed Summer Salts prints on his website, at prices so reasonable I might actually be able to fork out the cheddar for one. 

Time to watch some Photoshop tutorials.

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