It was the theft of three of Jeff Lyons' paintings that prompted him to hold his upcoming art show. Someone broke into the store where Lyons' paintings were being displayed and left with nothing else but his work. "At first I didn't find it flattering at all, I was very upset," Lyons said. "But then I realized that someone's willing to go to jail to take my paintings. That's when I decided that it was time to have another show," That show will begin today at Bad Ass Coffee on 17th Avenue S.W. it will feature at least 15 paintings from Lyons' current Girlfriends series as well as a number of his older paintings.
Lyons describes his current Girlfriends series as "pop portraits". The women are a little bit surrealist, a little bit cartoonish, and have lots to spare in the way of personality. 29 women have been finished so far, and Lyons hopes to do about 50 before he finished the series. He said that while certain characteristics of women he sees on the street may subconsciously make it into his paintings, the girlfriends are generally his own creations. "Subconsciously, yeah, I might see a girl and like something about the look or hairstyle or posture. I quite often see hairstyles that I like."
Though it can instantly be seen that Lyons' paintings are vibrant and fun, on closer inspection it's obvious that the women are meant to have minds of their own. "People often say that at first glance the paintings are appealing, but that when you look closer there is more to them," Lyons said. "They comment that (the women) really seem to have personalities of their own."
The self-taught artist has been doing the Girlfriends series since 2000. And he has been painting for 15 years and creating cartoons for 15 years before that.
"As a kid I was into cartoons hardcore," he said. "I didn't get out much. I had friends, but I was always up in my room cartooning, and I was always working on little projects."
Lyons decided in 1999 that the pop-surrealism and his other paintings weren't doing it for him anymore, and that he had an artist's block. "I knew that the only way to learn was to forget about the social life for a while," he said. " I locked myself in my apartment and pulled out all the old stuff I had done, and just spent awhile with that."
The result was Girlfriends. "I had done women before. A couple paintings in and I knew."