Sweptmedia.ca interviewed Justin Blayney roughly a year ago and as a tribute to his upcoming showing at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit at Nathan Philips Square, we have brought back a story from the archives. Check out more of his recent work on his website and get more details about his upcoming showing. The following story was published in Summer 2012 and written by Nicholas Camilleri.
For 39-year-old Toronto-based artist and web designer Justin Blayney, art isn’t just a hobby, it’s an element of his life that brings him from the depths of downtown Toronto to the quaint suburban corner that is Brampton’s Beaux Arts Gallery.
If you’ve made a recent visit to the Brampton Beaux Arts Gallery in downtown Brampton, there is a chance you’ve seen some of his unique work.
Blayney first learned of the Beaux Arts Gallery last year after seeing a flier for a juried show while working in Toronto with Art for All Canada.
The Toronto artist said that shortly after he submitted his painting he was informed that it was selected for the show. Even though his work didn’t place first, Blayney still decided to look into Beaux Arts, which eventually led him to become a member of the gallery.
His latest works (including pieces displayed at the current Brampton Art Show at BBAG) have a distinct and memorable quality. Using a series of coloured shapes, Blayney creates mosaic images, which he classifies as pop art.
His paintings from the Brampton Art Show bring a little something new, as in the past, Blayney’s pop art style was constructed using only circles and squares. He’s now experimenting with using other shapes for his mosaics and has also begun working with a photographer.
One of his Brampton Art Show pieces, entitled Discarded, features a portrait of a doll head. It uses stars instead of the shapes he’s focused on in the past, adding a new dimension to his art style.
Blayney’s been working with other shapes as well. A composition which currently remains untitled features hearts, and considering the context of the image, it doesn’t take much to see why he chose that shape.
Blayney writes about the work on his site.
“I have just completed my latest painting which is as yet untitled. It is based on a photo from Nils Blondon of a homeless man which I think is fabulous. I used pixel hearts to create this painting, the message being that we all deserve love, no matter where we are in life.”
Another deep and somewhat controversial painting titled Best Supporting Actor depicts a portrait of Osama Bin Laden. On Blayney’s website, he explains that there’s a pretty basic point to this piece.
“What I am saying is simple, don’t believe what the media tells you. Was the war on terror and the Iraq war no more than a ploy for corporations to make more money through stealing the middle eastern oil, or did the U.S. really save us from the evil Middle Eastern terrorists?”
Blayney wasn’t always into pop art and said that at a younger age (12 or 13) he was into cartooning and comic style art. He said much of the pop art he produces is the result of his doodling.
One of the things that attracts Blayney to pop art is the opportunity to combine his passion for accurate or hard-line art, and apply it to a form of painting.
“My left brain is in a constant dance with my right brain, the result of which are the straight lines, bright colours, and perfected details that my paintings contain.”
So where has Blayney found better success? Brampton or Toronto?
“It’s much better in the big city,” he said. “I have a lot more luck in Toronto.”
Blayney went on to say he doesn’t quite understand what drives people in Toronto to buy his pieces over residents from Brampton.
He pointed to Toronto’s large condo community, saying his pieces might compliment those home environments better than suburban homes.
“I’ve noticed at Beaux Arts, a lot of smaller nature pieces sell,” he said.
Despite his better luck in Toronto, Blayney still enjoys the BBAG and says places like it have a lot to offer.
“They’re great to work with. Everybody is kind because of their love for art.”
Blayney said painting on the side of his web design job is a form of stress relief and a rewarding aspect of his life.
However, at the age of 39, this artist has a few words of advice for novices in the art scene.
“Get involved in the community you are in. Find places like Beaux Arts and get involved,” he said. “The first few years are tough. Wait for something to happen. It’s a game of patience and you have to love what you do.”
Blayney’s works are currently displayed in the Brampton Art Show at BBAG at the corner of Main Street and Theatre Lane in downtown Brampton.
He will also be taking part in the free Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition held at Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto from July 6 – 8.
And if you are interested in celebrating everything to do with art and community, Blayney’s work will also be on display at the BIG on Bloor Festival July 21 – 22 in Toronto.
By Nicholas Camilleri