Becky Boston is a London-born, Shoreditch-based painter and photographer. With no formal training, she was inspired to take up art to channel her passionate interest in themes of gender variance, queer identity and alternative desire. Her first solo exhibition in 2011 was the result of winning Gallery 320’s Mindsoup competition. Since then
she has exhibited regularly in group shows across the capital, while magazines such as Wonderland, aMUSE and DIVA have all called her a
young British artist to watch. Here, Boston uses vivid oils and acrylics to recreate photographs of friends, lovers, family members and herself, recapturing and reinventing her subjects...
Album: Becky Boston artist paintingsARTIST STATEMENT
Becky Boston’s paintings are a form of outsider art twice over. As well as being the work of an artist who is entirely self-taught, her luminous portraits celebrate people who are themselves outsiders: punkish and androgynous people from the East London subcultures she inhabits; people she likes, or people she feels she is like.
‘I want to capture life as I live it’, she explains in interviews. Yet her work goes far beyond mere observance and preservation. The vivid radiance of her colours imbues her subjects with an iconic quality in the original sense of the word; iconic as in the saints of early Christian art. To be unconventional in appearance is, after all, to be a kind of martyr sacrificing their bodies for a belief – in Boston’s case, the belief in individuality at all cost. She depicts the human body as a personal canvas to be styled, bound, tattooed, dressed or exposed, all in honour of this cause, and questioning conventions of gender and sexuality as a result.
In My New Consciousness, for instance, a reclining nude’s flat chest is set against an equally ambiguous abstract background, using androgyny as trompe-l’oeil. The tender Erin, meanwhile, combines the lonely serenity of a Hopper tableau with the queer intimacy of a Gluck portrait. Elsewhere, with the Pop Art gunslinger of I Can Shoot as Quick and Straight as Anybody Can, Boston demonstrates how the cocky hooligans of Warhol, Mapplethorpe, and Larry Clark are very much alive and well in present-day Hackney.
Boston’s paintings also hint at hidden stories. The costumed child of A Friend in Me has a David Lynch-esque air of unexplained unease, while in the self-portrait I’m Just Looking At Myself, the dominance of the artist’s ‘BOY’ underwear invites a connection between aspirational clothing labels and journeys of gender identity. Gender may well be a brand for crowds to buy into, Boston suggests, but an individual can still tailor it to their own design.
Highgate, June 2013.From: Becky Boston