Paul Horton Art | Riverside Gallery
Out of adversity his natural talent for art emerged; not only did it represent a form of escapism but ultimately as fate would have it became his destiny. Horton was once described by his art teacher as ‘drawing like a pre-Raphaelite’ which encouraged him to seek out and study the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. Inspired by this he developed a deep interest in figurative painting which he cultivated during life drawing classes at the renowned Bournville School of Art. It was his studies in the traditional use of the figure and approach to realistic representation that allowed him years later the confidence to paint and sculpt from his imagination. During the mid-eighties Paul’s art took a major change of direction, he was invited to a local puppet theatre that was about to close its doors for the last time. Given access to the storeroom of puppets and marionettes, what he found laid out before him he would later describe as ‘a lost world’. It was a world full of fables, fairy-tales and folklore that became a cathartic turning point, as he breathed life into the strange and bizarre characters before him. The first paintings showed the puppets still with strings and it was only sometime later that he released them from their bonds, creating his own assortment of personalities and the beginnings of the work you see today. We are taken on a journey through his own personal iconography and symbolism; the house of love offering protection and sanctuary from what can be a cruel and unforgiving world, the working man who toils for his loved ones without complaint, the benevolent wizard with his lantern as a beacon of hope that offers an escape from the darkness and the man of mystery, whose complexities serve to remind us that there are hidden depths behind everything we see. He also has a desire to represent traditional themes based on the landscape and everyday life that are woven into the narrative he creates. There is a strong emotional connection that opens up his work to a variety of rich interpretation. In the Autumn of 2013 Paul was rewarded with a major exhibition at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, a rare and prestigious accolade which is testament to his talent and the dedication given throughout his life. His extensive knowledge of the history of art allows him to be inspired by the methods and materials of artists such as Degas and Chagall. He is often described as the modern-day Lowry, with his paintings being imbued with a working-class spirit and ethic that is rarely seen. In spite of this, there are clear and constant truths that only belong to Paul and his audience; he has an innate ability as a storyteller that enthrals those who have come to know and love his work and taken him to a popularity he never thought possible.