Russell Young: Life in Color

      The use of striking color in Russell Young’s work—which might at the surface seem to be a purely formal decision—is actually a result of the artist’s desire to counter the dull greys he associates with his childhood in Northern England. This motivating factor is present in Young’s brilliantly colorful aesthetic project, where iconic celebrity images are reimagined in a way that emphasizes contemporary society’s romanticism of fame. In an interview with Evening Standard Magazine the artist recalls an early memory of Alan Whicker (a popular British TV journalist) presenting on an English expat based in California, remembering how “even though it was broadcast in black and white, I could see the light was different there from the grey I could see out of my window in Yorkshire.” It was then that Young promised himself that he too would have the palm tree and swimming pool in his back yard, and every career move since has been engineered toward this adolescent dream.

     Fast-forward to 2018 and Young has come a long way from the muted palette of his English roots. With an impressive list of celebrity clients and an ever-expanding body of work, the artist’s career is a perfect example of the American Dream that he had once idealized from afar. Images that have become iconic through their recurring presence in popular media—often perpetuated in commercialized reproductions even today—are given a new life on Russell Young’s shimmering linen canvases.

The artist’s unique re-conception of popularized images of Marilyn Monroe, Kate Moss, Mohammad Ali, and Jackie O, to name a few, is fostered through his hand-mixed ink pigments and preserved in a layer of diamond dust during the silkscreen process.

     In his most recent series inspired by the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the charm of a vintage New York City, Audrey Hepburn’s portrait symbolizes formidable intelligence, timeless beauty and lavish glamour in one-of-a-kind “New York Tiffany Blue” and "New York White" pigments printed on black acrylic backgrounds. In a conversation with Artnet Young described his attraction to the “raw and immediate” qualities of the screen print medium for the way “you go from playing with the background color to suddenly in one stroke (discovering) this beautiful image of Marilyn or Elvis or Sid Vicious.” Inspired by Warhol’s sense of coloration, Russell Young is unmatched in his ability to compose alluring renderings of figures who are emblematic of the qualities that initially attracted him to the art world.