John Lee Bird marks ten years of before encore project with exhibition of 36 new portraits documenting London’s mercurial creative counter-culture.
Before encore is an ongoing portraiture project in which seminal London artist John Lee Bird documents the influential performers, muses, designers, musicians, poets and artists who exist within the creative spaces between marginal and mainstream popular culture. 2016 sees before encore enter its tenth year and 14th‐15th June sees a two day exhibition at London’s 20th Century Theater of the latest 36 portraits representing a diverse subculture of London’s performance/club/queer/music DIY art scenes. The exhibition will be a riotous celebration of not only John Lee Bird’s work but also his subjects, with countless musicians & performers from the latest portraits taking the stage, as well as a number of surprise guests from previous phases of Before Encore.
“I’ve painted many people who are now household names as part of before encore, but it has never been a predictive project. It’s never been a snapshot of the biggest deals at the time, but a representation of how the period felt ‐ the energy, the direction, the possibilities ‐ how that felt to me at the time, through the faces that were there. Yes, there are lots of performers, artists & musicians but there are also bar staff & club kids, because they were as much a part of how everything felt at that point in time.” John Lee Bird
John Lee Bird’s work is defined by his distinctive use of line; influenced by pop art and 1950’s instruction and medical manuals yet entirely more detailed and personable. He uses diagrammatic line to make intensely human studies; whether the object be a portrait or a more abstract vision of matters of the human condition.