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Chris Oxenbury

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Whilst we might not know the identity of The Stig, we can reveal just who is found beneath the popular contemporary art mask of, ‘Okse’. Why it’s none other than Chris Oxenbury. Which may or may not come as a surprise to those of you who know Chris Oxenbury as Chris Oxenbury. It’s not uncommon for artists to be known by another name, not that we’re implying that Oxenbury is on the run on anything dubious. Rather that he operates under another moniker when he’s doing what he does best; contemporary art. So therefore you may be more familiar with the name, ‘Okse?’ or then again, you might not. Either way, acclaimed contemporary figurative and portrait artist, Oxenbury/Okse is definitely a name (or two) to keep an eye on henceforth, as he continues to take the modern art world by storm with his unique portrayals of familiar faces from stage and screen, fact and fiction. Iconic people offa of the gogglebox like Sid James, Ronnie Barker, Del Boy Trotter, The Joker, Dr Who and Rocky, as well as folk from here and now, such as TV’s Jonathan Ross, Theo Paphitis and Jason Manford. He also paints ‘things’ in great abundance too. Things such as Nintendo Gameboys, robots, Cybermen and Nike hi-tops.

When he’s not found dabbling with his dark and light (and other tonal variations) while holed up in his studio, Oxenbury can be found at other people’s weddings. Providing his ‘wedding painter’ art service that is, not just making up numbers at the back of the church. While the matrimonial event plays out, Oxenbury creates the likeness of the bride and groom for them to cherish forever; much like a photographer does, only more original of thought. Ever the interesting character himself, what more can we divulge about Oxenbury. Well, what we do know is that he was born in 1974 in the Black Country, which is the generic name for the UK’s West Midlands, in a town called Stourbridge, where he went on to grow up and school, etc, after which he studied graphic design at Stourbridge Art College. On completion of all that secondary and further educational stuff, Oxenbury landed a succession of plum roles within the very exiting/then emerging gaming industry, where he was responsible for originating new characters and creating new worlds for them to inhabit (nice work if you can get it). During this period, Oxenbury was instrumental on new games titles for companies like Lego – in the capacity of an illustrator/animator type person – and the BAFTA award-winning, Sydney 2000 racing title amongst others.

Fast-forward to 2005, and Oxenbury grew disillusioned with the industry and opted to jumped ship, leaving the gaming industry behind to instead concentrate his creative efforts solely on his main passion in life. Art. Please keep up, this is for your benefit as we already know the script. During his first 12 months as a dedicated freelancer, Oxenbury was snapped up by one of the UK’s leading art publishers, Washington Green (who he signed with for an initial 2-year stint), who promptly released 6 limited edition Oxenbury prints for general circulation through a host of country-wide galleries. These prints were inspired by comedy icons from the world of televisual, and caught the public’s imagination, flying off gallery walls within weeks of their launch, according to the man himself. Oxenbury/Okse.

However Oxenbury parted company with Washington Green when his contract expired, and is now representing himself as an independent artist-about-towns, at the time citing something about ‘fresh challenges’ and a ‘new start’ as people often do. In case you haven’t necessarily picked up on it through our bio, there’s an underlying sense of wit about Oxenbury and his personal make-up and artistic DNA, and readily states comedy being the love of his life, alongside art. And any partner/family he may have, obviously. He’s always been enthralled by comedy, especially of the stand-up variety, and is fascinated in how people make others laugh in the context of a stage presence and live interactions. Truth of that matter was, so captivated by stand-up he was, Oxenbury took up the gauntlet himself and gave stand-up a whirl, quickly arriving at the conclusion that it was for him. As well as his painting, naturally.

As Oxenbury concurs, with comedy it’s not all about the jokes, there’s more (but definitely NOT Jimmy Cricket). There is formula, timing, expression, and in Oxenbury’s opinion a comedy icon is someone who can understand all these things and still make it look effortless. And it’s this belief and understanding that he strives to highlight and interpret through his chosen medium of art, and explains why he pays homage to his comedy heroes of the past and present in his compositions.

Oxenbury, who is based in Leamington Spa these days, concentrates on creating original pieces and now takes commissions from clients worldwide.