Street art skills meet traditional techniques, with the Belfast artist's latest exhibition in Queen's Film Theatre
Click play on the video above to watch Kev Largey's commentary on a new selection of paintings from his collection Another Bleedin' Exhibition, on display at Queen's Film Theatre in conjunction with the QFT screening of Banksy's new film Exit From The Gift Shop
Unless you count the teenagers that wile away chemistry class by scraping their name into the surface with a compass, an old writing desk or chest of drawers doesn't look much like a canvas to most. That hasn't stopped Kev Largey - or KVLR as his tag reads - from creating mini-masterpieces out of discarded wood in his latest body of work.
A popular figure in Belfast’s alternative art scene for over ten years, Largey began his career as a graphic designer and illustrator, quickly moving from designing street wear clothing with the likes of Apache Tribe, to creating work on a much larger scale on canvas and sometimes on recycled goods like old vinyl records or planks.
Largey's latest collection entitled Another Bleedin Exhibition, hosted by the QFT, is displayed on the walls of Queen's Film Theatre to coincide with the screening of Banksy’s new film Exit Through the Gift Shop.
Experimenting with airbrush and acrylic paints on recycled wood and canvas, Largey uses a mixture of rollers, brushes and spray paint to give the feel of street art, which is aged and matured outside by the elements, and hung on the walls inside.
But does the artist find the inspiration from his gallery peers or the infamous guerrilla artists on the street?
‘Probably a bit of both to be honest,' says Largey. 'I’ve had the privilege of painting with people that would be more well known than myself, like Nikovo and Bo, and the likes of Will Barras. They kind of influenced me in terms of technique. Seeing Banksy’s work a few years back when no-one [had heard of him], I found that quite inspiring.’
Although the nights sneaking out 'going painting' are long gone, Largey's street art sensibilities mean that his passion for creating quick-fire paintings still hasn't dried up. ‘I enjoy the spontaneity of it sometimes; you know that you don’t have to spend ages on a painting to make it look good.
'It's a development of all these weird characters that I’ve been working on for well over a year now. It’s basically something that if I was to land into anywhere with a bucket of paint and a brush I’d be able to paint that kind of stuff with my eyes closed. I don’t need specialist equipment like stencils or spray paint or things like that.’
Some of Largey's more complex paintings take up to two days to complete, which the artist says is a long time for him to finish any work. He often paints over previous work, time and again, to get the desired effect.
‘You can see remnants of older paintings. I feature that a lot in my artwork, sometimes when I’m not too happy with something I paint over it and keep on painting over it until I get somewhere that is kind of cool,’ he says.
Having created countless exhibitions and large scale murals both inside and out, Largey has collaborated with some of Europe’s best known exponents of street art. He has painted walls in Dublin, Manchester, New York and Thailand, and received commissions closer to home, such as a piece in Belfast's North Arcade (see main picture above). He also organises artists for the Winter Base event in the Ulster Hall.
Largey though is keen to point out that wherever the work is displayed, it's placing shouldn't define the artist.
'It's weird to pigeonhole people as street artists, just because they do it. Most of the "street artists" that I know would be doing things in galleries too. I would say it's an artist first, and then an artist that does work on the street.'
The Kev Largey exhibition is running in the QFT, 20 University Square Belfast until March 25. Check out Largey's other works at kevlargey.com and his Flickr. Tickets for Exit Through the Gift Shop, screening March 25 at 9pm are at queensfilmtheatre.com.