On the 14th November, I attended a private viewing of The Weight of Silence, a solo exhibition of digital paintings by Norwich-based artist Siris Hill. Siris recently graduated from Norwich University of the Arts, where he developed his creative practice that is centred around Renaissance and Baroque inspired figurative painting. By imitating and taking inspiration from artists such as Rembrandt and Caravaggio, Siris developed his own unique style that he is currently exhibiting to the public from 15th November 2019 – 25th January 2020 at the Fairhurst Gallery in Norwich.
Unable to work around the fumes of oil paint, Siris developed his digital painting techniques, using a graphics tablet to replicate the texture and movement of oil and acrylic paints. All of Siris’ work is hand-painted from start to finish, working from reference images to create his artwork which, once finished, is destroyed to represent the violence of mental health on the self. By combining traditional techniques with contemporary innovation, Sirus brings several of his works to life through his bespoke lightbox designs; the work is printed onto an acrylic panel backlit by an LED box and displayed in a frame. Siris also featured his chromaluxe aluminium prints, titled ‘Boxed In’, ‘Misère’, and ‘Relapse’ at the beginning of the exhibition.
‘Sheer determination is how I’ve taken myself from living on the streets to completing a degree and now setting up a business. It’s this determination that will continue to push me forward and help others who find themselves in similar situations as I did’
‘Goetia’ was my favourite painting of the evening, the formal pose of the woman combined with the lack of facial features and dark colours makes for an eerie piece that harks back to the Gothic. I observed that the painting paid tribute to an iconic Gothic artwork, Fuseli’s ‘The Nightmare’ through the horse’s face and sleeping woman that appears on the sleeve. The use of a lightbox makes the painting ghostly and adds to the disorientation of identity that Siris accomplishes as the details on the clothing detract from the woman’s lack of self. His feature artwork ‘The Weight of Silence’ was another favourite of mine, the pale skin of the girl and white dress are angelic while inside her dark-haired men are tense and in angst, portraying the internal struggle of mental illness that she hides behind her content face and outward appearance.
‘My overall goal is to challenge perceptions of mental illness, reduce stigma and start new conversations about mental health’
Siris’ work explores the effects that mental health and psychological conditions can have on an individual, his practice reflecting his own experience of living with trauma and mental illness. His work focuses on the struggle of perception, investigating the social obstructions and the loss of identity that mental illness can cause. Siris hopes that through the viewer’s engagement with his work, others will have a greater understanding of the impact that mental illness can have upon individuals.
‘Art has saved my life, literally. It has given me a voice, a purpose and taught me discipline, which in turn has strengthened my mind and allowed me to take the same approach I have used to learn to paint to tackle my recovery head-on’