03 June 2022

Artist making a ‘big’ impression with 4.6 sq metre work in IMMORTAL exhibition

03 June 2022

It’s fair to say Mitch Griffiths really lives for his art.

“I slept under that painting,” he says, nodding towards the vast 4.6 sq metre work Like a Pack of Gods which took him three years to complete.

The oil painting, a visually striking piece containing at least a dozen bodies and references to everything from mortality and fast food to Hollywood and drone technology, is a highlight of his IMMORTAL exhibiition at London’s Halcyon Gallery.

“It’s exhilarating working on a piece that size, but it’s also exhausting,” he says. “Having a multi-figure work is the difference between driving a car and driving a helicopter – there are so many things to think about.”

IMMORTAL features 28 new oil paintings including three such monumental canvases and is Griffith’s first solo UK exhibition for nine years. The collection, which depicts the pandemic, identity politics, youth activism and social media in Griffith’s trademark classical style, was six years in the making and the artist transformed his studio warehouse in Devizes, Wiltshire to recreate the gallery environment.

“I wanted a space which was big enough to see them in situ, so I partitioned off part of the warehouse and set up the lighting so that it was almost like a theatre,” he says. “It’s unheated too, so it’s quite Arctic. I like things to be spartan.”

Whenever Griffiths was stuck on a particular painting, or got too cold, he would simply jump on his gym equipment he keeps in his warehouse and do a workout while seeking inspiration (some rather literally than others, such as his kettlebells which made it into Like a Pack of Gods).

Mitch Griffiths - Some Kind of Sanctuary


Sport originally helped avid boxing fan Griffiths launch himself as an artist back in 1994, when he painted a portrait of Chris Eubank and sent a photo of it to Eubank’s agent. The boxer was delighted with the piece, wanting to use the image to promote his matches, and he initially commissioned a series of pictures and offered Griffiths a job, setting up a studio for him at his business centre in Hove.

Immortal is Griffiths’ fifth exhibition in collaboration with the gallery after the two came together in a chance meeting.

“I used to visit the Halcyon Gallery in Bruton Street and took my wife Kathy to see a Robert Lenkiewicz painting,” he says, “and it wasn’t long after the BP Award”.

Griffiths’ work Armoured Heart hadbeen chosen by the National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award for the exhibition’s promotional poster, meaning it had been seen all across London.

“I started chatting to a lady from the gallery who asked to see some examples of my work – which obviously normally never happens,” he recalls. ”We went off to look at the paintings and then she came running up to me saying ‘Did you paint this?’ [the BP Portrait]. I said yes, and she said: ‘We’ve been looking for you!”

Griffiths has worked exclusively with Halcyon ever since and says it’s the perfect creative relationship. “They’re not afraid of taking risks, and I get inspired by them.”

But Griffiths still has grand ambitions. “I’d love some of the big paintings to go into museums,” he says. “In a museum, you get a bigger audience, you want as many people to see it as possible. But ultimately, I just want them to go where they’re loved.”

Fans of his work include Earl Spencer who bought Britannia for Althorp, the Spencer family home, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, Oscar-winning actress Kiera Knightly, and rock and roll philanthropist Bob Geldof.

IMMORTAL by Mitch Griffiths is at Halycon Gallery on New Bond Street until June 5th

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