I first became aware of British artist Tom French through an article on dark fashion Style Noire's website. A fan of all things dark and skull related, the piece which focused on Tom French's Skull Illusion art work, which can be read here, really interested me. I then looked further into the Newcastle based artists work, and while the skull illusion pieces drew me in initially, viewing his portfolio led me to take even more interest into his work.

Becoming more and more fascinated by his dark paintings, I decided to contact Tom French for some further information in order to ensure that this article had as much detail about him and his work as possible. Fortunately, I timed my contacting at the time of his most recent exhibition; Flux. Showing at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery in London until 3rd May, Flux is a collection of oil paintings and unique mixed media pieces. 

Through his work, French often focuses on reflecting the conscious and the unconscious mind, skilfully combining realism and surrealism his abstract pieces are incredibly dark and have deep messages, meaning you can really look into the paintings. 

'The show continues upon the popular Duality series, extending from his dynamic skull motif, where the figures positioned within his paintings reflect the conscious mind, with the predominant face or skull reflecting the unconscious.'

I really love the intensity that the abstract depiction of the faces brings. The rough, free brush strokes add to the emotion portrayed in each painting. I especially like the faces within the faces on each piece. If you look closely, each figure is often formed from other faces, and the deeper you look the more emotions are figures you can see in each painting. This, for me, adds to the contrast between realism and surrealism. It also begs the question of the subconscious affecting one when conscious, making each piece have such a deep meaning.

Unlike the original surrealist paintings such as the likes of Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and Man Ray, who present obvious juxtapositions and contrasts dream with reality in an almost cartoon, over exaggerated way, French uses darkness and emotion to give an intelligent and modern take on this artistic movement.

The OCD and A-Level art historian side to me is also really drawn to the groupings of three French often uses. I think it creates balance to the paintings, while the erratic paintwork juxtaposes this creating the perfect contrast and represents the conflict between consciousness and unconsciousness, reality and imagination. 

Tom French's Flux exhibition is on at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery in London until 3rd of May

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