Ken Orton

(b. 1933, British)


Ken Orton is a post-Modern painter who hybridizes Photorealist technique and style with expressionistic painterliness. This is an unusual innovation, insomuch as Photorealism attempts to appear photo-sharp, while painterly brushwork is loose and conveys ‘casually’ spontaneous action and bravado. 

Of this the artists says, “While I use my own carefully composed photographs as a reference, and each piece usually has a precisely-painted, clear point of focus, I do not consider myself a photorealist. I am equally interested in the intentionally blurred fields of color in my compositions – areas that allow me to practice a looser, expressionistic technique to create illusionary poems, rather than an inventory of seen objects and, along the way, forming – I believe – powerful and engaging works of art. I still get enormous pleasure from watching people move towards one of my canvases. At that moment when the image switches from being photographic to very human and painterly, there is often an uttered ‘WOW’ . . . I love the Wows.” 

With a long history as an art professor and studio painter, he goes on, “The direction of my painting has always had an academic approach. I sought a subject that in itself seemed to have little value, hoping that the paint alone would attack the viewer’s senses and impart its own worth. I often think of the process of painting, and indeed the finished artwork itself, in musical terms: rhythm, texture, coloration, and tonal dynamics.

“In painting glass one is attempting to render a surface that is composed entirely of either refracted or reflected light. These subjects are constantly changing as they interact with the objects around them. The raised lettering on the jars and bottles have, by their prismatic nature, an ability to capture tone and color from one side of the composition and pull it, in microcosm, to the other. The rhythmic nature of this lettering provides a stave onto which the decaying light, the tonal crescendos, and the reflected counter melodies are written, resulting in an endless path of discovery.”



Birmingham and Manchester Colleges of Art



Director, Arts Program, Joan Miró Centro de Arte, Baleares International School, Mallorca, Spain.



Best of Show Award, “Washington Square Painting Prize,” NYC, NY



Harrods of London Art Gallery