A pivotal juncture in celebrated fine artist, Paul Kentonís formative years was his familyís upping sticks from land-locking Derby, and his birthplace, and relocating to the West Country when he was eight years of age. With the onset of adolescence Ė coupled with the sea at his beck and call now Ė Kenton taught himself to surf on the wild beaches of North Devon, a passion that has remained with him to this day. Now based in Illfracombe with his Brazilian partner and two young daughters, Kentonís studio is found in a former railway building, and serves as the creative hubris for his expansive works of contemporary fine art.
Kentonís first brush with artistic fame arrived at the age of 12, when he emerged victorious in a nationwide colouring competition, winning a prized set of paints for his endeavours. During his teenage years, Kenton fell in love with watercolours, yet cruelly missed out on the opportunity to further shape his talent at art college on account of failing to make the grades in English; a pre-requisite qualification for entry onto the course he wished to study. Instead he gained a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Stafford University.
Given the very obvious pointers in much of his signature work, it will surprise nobody to learn that on graduation, Kenton opted to become a draughtsman, although in the main there was method in this madness, as his career choice enabled Kenton to support himself whilst developing his art skills away from the workplace. In 1995 Ė and after obtaining a grant from the Princes Youth Business Trust to financially support his decision Ė Kenton took the punt of painting professionally.
Looking at Kentonís body of fine art work, and it would be a travesty to attempt to stereotype the style and creative persuasion of his vibrantly engaging back catalogue. Kentonís knack of accurately describing and graphically illuminating instantly recognizable capital city landmarks and skylines is beyond compare, adding an even greater sense of larger than life exuberance amid a positively graphic explosion of vivid colours, yet beyond this and indeed, underpinning this, thereís a very technical drawing feel to creative proceedings. The way in which Kenton seeks a balance and compromise between flamboyant brushstrokes, yet retaining this very technical, draughtsman-like accuracy to his creations is a precocious talent.
On other works of art, Kenton displays a wanton neglect for symmetry, structure and innate discipline, portraying free flowing movement and a seemingly haphazard, almost disjointed approach and ambivalence to the subject purporting to be at the centre of his vision. And then thereís the manner in which Kenton subjects his finely judged, hitherto black and white observations of a cityscape to the not inconsiderate matter of colour. A dash here, a distant hint there, never more than alluding to the reality.
To the naked eye, Kentonís compositions appear like a random introduction of in-distinguished lines and cross-hatching techniques which give rise to an outlining of fragility and vulnerability. Of a structurally sound city or urban space, the inner workings of a construct when dispossessed of its soul, its mainframe left exposed. Only for Kenton to fill in the blanks, cloth the metropolitical monster and close the book. Lighting, reflective surfaces, a preoccupation with rain or post-precipitated cityscapes are all characteristic of Kentonís trademark flourishes.
On occasion the colours appear distorted, with the form kept yet the light altered to make a visual connection with the underlying mood or message that Kenton wishes to convey. This is particularly well illustrated in his South of the River piece, which bears witness to the Union Jack flashed within the painting, by changing the surrounding colours to co-ordinate and add uniformity to the distinctive red, white and blue symbolism.
Working in acrylic and oils he took inspiration from his world wide travels; the cityscapes, cafes, harbours, bridges and seascapes situated in and around some of the biggest, most enigmatic, energetic cities on the planet, already immortalised on canvas in a plethora of ways, yet Kenton strives to find that something else. That something nobody else has touched on previously. Having travelled extensively in his thirst for creative knowledge and inspiration, Kenton tackles the likes of London, Paris and New York with a whole new, oft-skewed perspective and artistic intent. Distorted, yet measured flashes of brilliance collide with a fine art. Furious movement, the cascading effect of artificial light, a seeming riot of monochrome, briefly interrupted by the grievances of colour. Itís all endemic of a Kenton study.
Not an artist to labour over the innate details of what something should look like; Kenton focuses on engendering a unique atmosphere, enveloping free shapes, non conformist horizontal and vertical lines and infatuated colouration. This has evolved over the past decade to what we see today, this derestricted, unshackled fusion of various media, which seeks to capture the ambience of the total location as much, if not more, than the sum parts.
Kenton revisits the initial photos and rough sketches he creates at the scene of the future scene, to rekindle emotions. Heís also partial to scribbling words and phrases down to recall the environ and sense of occasion. He builds up each layer with broad brushstrokes and drip colour to create form until I can sense the atmosphere I want. To keep the piece fresh I try and stop before it gets too fussy. I value the opinion and feedback from my partner Alex as we have often been to the places together and our moods and views are often represented in the pieces. Kentonís technique centres around dipping huge brushes in to large pots of paint, and proceeding to drip on an outline, before introducing the remainder of the painted area to the canvas in a more industrial manner.