Joe Holbrook is an English born, self-taught painter and sculpture. Born in 1988 and raised in Kent, South East England, Holbrook has found himself interacting with many different social groups since he was a teen; all with different interests and personalities. Fascinated by societies' constant lust for good times and enjoyment, he finds himself socialising with people from all walks of life in every city he visits - taking his inspiration from some of the more darker, sinister aspects of society.
Through his work, Holbrook reflects the attitudes and the immediate surroundings of his social life, seen through his own eyes. He feels it the necessity and duty of the artist to document and translate the generation from which they come from, capturing and telling the story as they see and experience it. With a laid-back approach to subjects and activities that are often frowned upon, Holbrook is not shy in creating a piece that audiences may not see the beauty in - his work is much deeper than just an image portraying contrasting and hypercritical personalities; it is not meant to be understood instantly. You cannot always see beauty so easily in something you see for the first time (or even something you see every day), once this thing could have been viewed as incredible, but the feeling erodes over time - life moves and things are forgotten, they become mundane. The extraordinary becomes ordinary. But there is the one day this familiar thing is seen from a different angle and this passion is rekindled. This can also be applied to life - things that have become so routine, they are boring are suddenly lit up when you take a different view; where often, reflection is the most productive emotion. This leaves society desiring and craving for a revival or return, appreciating it much more on the second time around.
Holbrook's work is shadowed by his teenage years. Peers and experiences in his hometown and London are reflected in his work - the animals that are featured nod to his upbringing in the countryside; the way his work is composed is in an almost filthy manor; rough watered down shading and a reoccurring presence of brown, representing the soil from the surroundings he spent his childhood in. This influenced is mixed with the constant reminder of a youth immersed in urban nightlife; city backstreet bars and clubs surrounded by misadventure, sex, drugs and the shame of knowing what's to come as well as the excitement of an imminent adventure. This naive approach of a youth is also reflected in the artists technique, beginning with a softer, honest mentality, light brush strokes in oils offer a traditional beautiful manner, gathering momentum, showing the impatience and almost pessimistic nature of the young with rough brush strokes and hard shading; a finish of finer layers in messy browns and pinks almost soil the image in order to make it more real and reflect the mentality of this moment.
Holbrook's paintings are shrouded in secrecy, often cropped in a unique snapshot way to only tell part of a story. This gives viewers a taste of what's going on, but not enough to feel fully satisfied and at the same time not enough to be completely disappointed. This leaves a hunger and frustration - the feeling of craving more and mentally standing on your toes, hoping to glimpse the whole picture and bigger story through a crack in the artist's door.
His sculptures, again reflecting his past and upbringing shrouded with remorse, and regret. They shine a light on past naivety and talk about everyday racism, British culture, and the changing of times. Presented in a way that shows the ageing, wear and tear of his chosen niche, his work is honest and a portrayal of many young adults who are living and have lived.