PJ Riley: I’m Always Better When I’m Next To You – J/M Gallery, London

This spring, Caribbean-based British artist PJ Riley will transport audiences to the splendour of Island life in his new exhibition I’m Always Better when I’m Next to You, which will showcase a selection of his most vibrant and meaningful artworks that explore the depths of human emotion and experience.

Pj Riley - Floating
Pj Riley – Floating

In a world of beauty, emotion, and introspection, Riley’s oeuvre is a mesmerising fusion of abstract expressionism and narrative storytelling, weaving together a compelling tapestry that resonates with the contemporary soul. His paintings – some fiery and bold, others soothing and melancholic – are reflections of the human condition, rendered with a boldness and nuance.

With a background in industrial design, PJ Riley has designed innovative products such as a plastic spoon for Haagen Dazs and a keyring for Vivienne Westwood.  In 2014, Riley moved to the Caribbean and shifted his focus on painting, drawing inspiration from the Welsh Hills and the Caribbean light and colour. He has since created a new strand of modern art with a Caribbean twist, which reflects his resilience and desire to make being alive mean something.

From the vibrancy of Matisse and spontaneity of Jackson Pollock, to the distortion of Picasso and texture of Van Gogh, PJ Riley’s work pays homage to the greatest artists in art history, which is further fused with the emotive storytelling of a Goya. This blend of characteristics have paved a way in reshaping the dialogue around abstract art as seen in Riley’s art which is deeply personal and explores the energy that links us and the possibility of a higher power.

Each artwork in the exhibition serves as a portal into a world of emotional intensity and introspection, passion and contemplation. Through his masterful use of colour, form, and composition, Riley creates a visual symphony that speaks directly to the heart, transcending language and culture. From the fiery passion of I’m Always Better Next to You to the contemplative depths of You Carry the World, Riley’s paintings invite viewers to embark on a journey of self-discovery and reflection. The exhibition also delves into the universal themes of companionship, regret, and resilience, as seen in works like Under The Big Tree and The Penitent.

PJ Riley’s method of layering adds further depth and complexity to his artworks, which are then peeled back for viewers to discover the hidden narratives within. Each brushstroke reveals passage of time and the layers of memory that shape our lives, creating an engaging dialogue between the artwork and the viewer.

The exhibition is a testament to Riley’s status as a visionary storyteller whose canvas serves as a mirror to the complexities of contemporary life. Through his art, he challenges viewers to confront their own emotions, experiences, and perceptions, inviting them to find meaning and connection in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.

Pj Riley - Pearl Moon
Pj Riley – Pearl Moon

PJ Riley comments: “It is an exciting challenge to bring together this poignant selection of works, to make sense of an organised chaos, to revaluate the artwork’s – and my own narrative(s) – in doing so. My work very much reflects on my turbulent past while acknowledging the beauty in the present, and gift of the future. It is this process that aids the storytelling, the varied narratives, and all the complexities of what makes us human. I want my art to inspire others to make every day count and to help quieten the voices of self-criticism”.

Riley PJ; under the big tree
Riley PJ; under the big tree
Lisbeth Thalberg
Lisbeth Thalberghttp://lisbeththalberg.wordpress.com
Journalist and artist (photographer). Editor of the art section at MCM. Contact: art (@) martincid (.) com
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