From Dromore, Co. Down, Graham moved to London in 1985 to work in retail management. In 1996 he enrolled at Edinburgh College of Art. In 2000 he graduated with Honours and was awarded Master of Fine Art (MFA) Painting in 2002. Both Degree and postgraduate shows were extremely successful and his work continues to be much in demand. In the past 5 years he has been a BP Portrait winner, and had solo and group exhibitions in galleries in the UK and the USA. In 2006 he was short-listed for the Aspect Prize. He works and lives in Edinburgh.
The figure remains my focus and the works are basically about feelings – the psychological aspects and effects upon the human. Each painting and print both creates and records an image and mood, capturing the onlooker in the subject’s gaze. I am principally interested in drawing the spectator in, then encouraging them to look beyond and behind the mask, and engage with the underlying humanity of the subject.
Intimacy is created by placing the image against a stark background, which may bring a sense of isolation. I am also trying to develop tension between the layered texture of the image and the simplicity of the surrounding. My work is very much about the interplay between the external and the internal. Sometimes this has arisen from personal history and relationship but very often the heads “arrived” unbidden, which may reflect my own internal conflict. To date, the “mask” continues to fascinate me. The weight of it, the weightlessness of it, the hidden vulnerabilities and inner turmoil. I have wanted to confront the inner reality quite literally (head on), experiencing the full face as being more penetrable and thus more transparent.