Meet Alistair Leys, the artist creating art for the people

Alistair Leys working on a mural Pic: London School of Muralsim

Alistair Leys, 31, a London-based mural artist started painting at a young age and got into huge sale paintings as a teenager while living in Yorkshire and then Essex.

“[Small towns in Essex] had tons of abandoned buildings; it was kind of like this ex-industrial belt. Me, my brother, and some friends always hang out in those places and paint massive paintings on the walls,” he said.

Leys says one of the reasons he likes muralism so much is because of its inherent political aspect and the lack of separation it has from people. “I think one of the great things about muralism is it kind of creates a dialogue in the streets and it competes with advertising and with this bombardment of imagery for people’s attention, but in a different way.

“It’s not trying to sell you something. Or it’s not trying to sell you something in an obvious way.”

Leys attended Central St. Martins to study painting as an undergraduate. “I kind of moved away from street art for a bit, because obviously, that’s the kind of establishment it is [Central St. Martins]. And it’s kind of very much into gallery shows and canvases or experimental performances and film work. So I kind of explored that for a bit when I was there. But, I got a bit sick of that world and ended up kind of going back towards street art.

“You know, say you put a canvas in a gallery behind closed doors, and then people are invited from the art world to the private view, you’ve got this split from the everyman, and this bubble of the art world. Whereas muralism, literally for everyone”

Alistair attended programmes like the London School of Muralism, founded by Patricio Forrester, where he had more practical training in huge sale painting. He said: “I think my friend Patricio is definitely the one who’s influenced me the most and taught me the most and kind of really got me into this.”

A number of his works can be seen all around South London.

A mural by Alistair and the graduate team from the London School of Muralism. Corner New Cross (Cafe) Pic: Stuart Carruthers

This commissioned work he did alongside artists from the London School of Muralism for Corner New Cross a local cafe on New Cross Road. Leys was able to lead the 10-day long project and work off a design of his own. He described his murals as “acid figuration… It’s kind of realistic, but also something quite strange in the colour and in some of the details, something that is slightly off, I guess some kind of critique of like modern capital or something that’s quite subtly disturbing in its quality.”

Alister collaborated with Conrad Armstrong, a London-based artist, and filmmaker, to make a short film exploring the creation of this mural at all stages.

A short film by Conrad Armstrong documenting the of making a mural

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