As a creator of the anthropomorphic, LA-based visual artist Derek Paul Jack Boyle frequently turns to everyday objects for inspiration. Here, these objects – like dice, cigarettes, swords, shovels and ladders – then “become characters within scenes,” and their own protagonist capable of “evoking metaphor,” he says.
So far, Derek’s work has been featured broadly across publications such as the New York Times, Vice, Elephant Magazine and more, mostly for his work with Meatwreck – a photographic collaboration between himself and multimedia artist Mitra Saboury, catching the hungry eyes of many.
Turning the focus onto his paintings, Derek uses an enchanting mix of acrylic and photographic techniques. “I use photography in service of painting now,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I think of Sunset in a Can and Delivery as just paintings in a can and a bag, respectively, where the canvas becomes a metaphor in and of itself.” In these two works, it’s a game of mind trickery; the first sees a beached scene with a rusting can placed centre stage – yet a sunset is painted in its interior; the second sees another beach scene, where the subject is a backpack with a highway road painted inside. Both depict a questionable setting where our trust in photography is questioned.
Derek plans to continue working between the two mediums: “I’m developing more of these object paintings, as I enjoy the alternative approaches to painting on odd surfaces. The photograph of the work carries the idea into the world but the object remains behind – a painting-thing.”
Working from a studio in Boyle Heights – a neighbourhood of almost 100,000 residents east of Downtown Los Angeles, Derek tries to paint as much as possible either in the early morning or really late at night – “when I’m feeling less encumbered by… everything,” he says. “I enjoy painting on birch panels for the weight and texture. I also work from drawings I made and will often sketch quickly to get grooved up to then jump into painting.”
His father was a painter, which initially inspired him to pick up a brush at a young age. And he has been a keen painter ever since, often turning to the act of creating as a therapeutic process – which he says is a more remedial form of image-making developing photos, “personally”. He continues: “I am interested in the hand’s intentional imperfection and in supporting imagination over strict documentation. I am interested in building layers. If, for years, photography was a way of observing and capturing an idea, painting now allows me a fuller scope of narrative and aesthetic control. Plus I really like the smell of acrylic paint.”
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she became online editor in 2022 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.