Different strokes

Posted by: Richard Abbey
Different strokes supporting image

Sheffield artist Pete McKee has unveiled a brand new style and will be showcasing his latest work at a new exhibition.


'Eight New Paintings' will be free to view as a virtual online exhibition from 9 December to 3 January and, if lockdown restrictions allows, Pete will also be holding a free exhibition at the Millennium Gallery from Wednesday 9 to Sunday 13 December.


Over the course of 2020, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, so much has changed for everyone. The characters in Pete McKee’s artwork are no exception either. Black lines, which derive from his iconic graphic, pop-art style with roots in cartoon work and illustration, have been removed to allow for a more painterly technique.

While keeping up a fantastic resource of art workshops online, teaching thousands to draw cartoons, behind closed doors, Pete’s style has evolved, painting his characters with more detail, which in turn helps the viewer to imagine more in-depth personalities, bringing his relatable, everyday characters to life in a more gritty and realistic way.

The Eight New Paintings exhibition will allow the public to view Pete’s new body of work for the first time, which continues to reflect his interest in exploring working-class life, nostalgia, and social and political themes, in a completely new way.


Each of these new paintings offers a snapshot into the world’s of the characters portrayed. These are scenes and people that most of us recognise, for whom we can easily imagine a backstory. Each painting also comments on or poses questions about the lives of the characters portrayed in these paintings. For example, Return of the Waltzer Boy, depicting an ageing fairground worker, invites questions about who this character is, who looks as if he has as many stories to tell as the lines painted in his face. In There’s No Place Like Home, a elderly woman living in a care home, glances out of her bedroom window. Although all of the work in this exhibition was painted before the pandemic, this painting is particularly poignant at this moment in time and invites questions such as: ‘who is this woman and how long will she have to wait for her next visit?’

Pete McKee says: “I’m so excited to reveal my new style in this exhibition. Since This Class Works, my last exhibition in 2018, I began experimenting with how I could use my materials differently so I could evolve my work. I realised that the black lines I often use had become a boundary and I wanted to see what would happen if I took them away, and it changed everything.”


To find out more about the exhibition, click here. Or to find out more about Pete, give his website a whirl.


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