Artist Feature – Paul Horton

The Art of the Storyteller

After ten years as one of the UK’s most popular and widely collected professional artists, Paul Horton is set to embark on another nationwide tour. In collaboration with Publishers Washington Green, Horton will be introducing ‘Heart & Soul’, his fourth major exhibition and a collection which he believes to be by far his most important and strongest to date.

Few would question Horton’s talent and creativity as an artist, with his unique and distinctive characters and landscapes that give his work such a recognisable style. But his highly acclaimed success is not solely down to his talent on paper. It is also down to his natural born gift as a storyteller capable of evoking a range of emotions from love, happiness and hope, to feelings of nostalgia, sadness and emptiness.

Drawing on his own life experiences and childhood memories growing up in the industrial landscape of Birmingham, Horton has been able to combine his imagination and wit with his own identity and beliefs and brilliantly translated his ideas into a host of wonderfully complex and widely loved characters.

Having already introduced, interpreted and explored many of these characters, such as such as ‘The Little Tramp’ and ‘The Man of Mystery’ in his previous work, the ‘Heart & Soul’ collection, comprising of eight new paintings and two sculptures, sees Horton continue to narrate and expand on each characters own particular journey. By setting the scene and then leaving so many questions unanswered, Horton encourages the viewer to connect with and explore their own emotions to see what each of the paintings will represent to them.

He says: “I try not to give too much away as I hope each person will use their own imagination to make up their own stories and meanings from each painting.”

Horton’s keen observations on the ways in which the world continues to change and move forward, have become a common theme throughout much of his work. Sometimes it’s done subtly: the child’s red kite in ‘The Sky’s the Limit’, a metaphor for the journey from childhood and the hopes and aspirations we all share. Or more directly, as with Noah’s Ark in ‘Disappearing World’.

This is the most significant painting in the new collection”, says Horton “Not only is Noah’s Ark such a wonderful subject matter but it also has a sub text that relates to real and important issues that effect today’s society such as climate change and natural disasters, it will be very interesting to see the public’s response to it.”

As well as using his own poems and short stories to influence his work, music has always been a big inspiration for Horton, particularly that of his long time friend and collector, rock star Steve Harley. Since performing at Horton’s ‘All in a Life’s Work’ exhibition back in 1998, they have remained good friends and have most recently come together to support Steve’s fundraising efforts to raise awareness of landmine issues across the world, as an ambassador for the MAG (Mines Advisory Group). Horton’s specially conceived painting ‘Onward and Upward’ will not only be co-signed by both Horton and Steve Harley himself, but Publisher Washington Green will also be donating £50 to the charity for every limited edition print sold.

Harley comments: “It is a fabulous image, a wonderful metaphor on the theme of struggle, honour and commitment – ‘Onward and Upward’ it is.”

With so many of his characters still on their own individual journeys and so many stories still untold, there seems no doubt that Horton’s impact is still very much in the ascendancy and looks set to flourish for many years to come.

“I feel just as passionate about my art today as I did thirty-five years ago, in many respects I feel like I’m starting all over again”.

feature as published in Fine Art Collector

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