Meet The Man Who Takes The Power Back By Painting The News

January 15, 2015 | Rhett Jones

Artist John Keane tells the BBC that painting figures who control the world are his “way of dealing with people who I think exercise some sort of power or control over our lives, my life, and it’s my way, I suppose a rather feeble way, of grabbing back a little of that power because I can use their image in anyway I like.”


Keane’s paintings are almost exclusively ripped from the headlines. Sometimes the works quite literally use newsprint. Other times he breaks the iconic images down to the fundamentals. In the case of orange jumpsuit-ed prisoners from Guantanamo, he has used many approaches, sometimes going for a sort of Gerhard Richter-style blur, or just simplifying it to shapes colored in the distinctive orange and black hues worn by inmates.


Keane says that what motivates and fascinates him is the question of why people kill each other “to promote some ideology or religious belief; supposedly creating their better world they’re making the world worse.” To see more work and hear Keane elaborate on his process in an extraordinarily pleasing British accent, click play on the video above.


(Images: John Keane)