Sheffield born self-taught artist Pete McKee, whose signature style has attracted a worldwide following, has changed tack in 2020. Influenced by working class life and comic books, he has depicted many musical greats such as David Bowie, the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix.
During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, McKee has shifted away from his trademark style of black lines, that are rooted in his iconic graphic, pop-art style, to a more painterly technique. His more detailed approach helps the viewer to imagine the painted characters in a more realistic way. McKee has been doing this while maintaining a resource of art workshops online, teaching thousands to draw cartoons.
In 2011, he opened the McKee Gallery in Sheffield where several exhibitions have taken place, the latest of which is Eight New Paintings, that will give public access to view McKee’s new work for the first time. With new lockdown restrictions in England due to lift in early December, this free exhibition is hoped to go ahead as planned and will take place with public safety front of mind and in keeping with all social distancing advice and safety precautions.
The new paintings offer a snapshot into characters’ worlds. Each painting comments on or poses questions about the lives of the characters portrayed in these paintings such as in Return of the Waltzer Boy, that depicts an ageing fairground worker and There’s No Place Like Home that shows an elderly woman glancing out of the bedroom window of her care home.
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.”
The actual exhibition, whose entry is free, will take place at McKee Sheffield, 48 Arundel Gate, Sheffield City Centre, Sheffield S1 2PP from Wednesday 9th December till Saturday 12th December at 10am till 4pm and on Sunday 13th December at 11am till 4pm.
It will take place as a virtual online exhibition from 9th December 2020 till 3rd January 2021 at the website entitled Eight New Paintings.
From Wednesday 9th to Sunday 13th December, McKee will also be holding a free exhibition at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery where an online booking system is in place to ensure the safety of all. This exhibition will also be available online, again free of charge, from 9th December 2020 till 3rd January 2021.