For British artist Andrew Tift, the most profound source of inspiration is in people and the interaction between subject and viewer. He maintains that the characters depicted in his hyperreal charcoal portraits are strongly linked to mortality and the need we all have to record visual document of our family and friends.
Tift predominantly specialises in portraiture and aims for an absolutely pure and objective likeness. His work has often explored the physiognomy of various subcultures, with biker gang members, Harajuku punks and New Mexico hippies all having being portrait sitters.
Starting with the photographic process, Tift works from there to seek the interesting qualities that exist in all his sitters, their outward appearances often revealing little of their inner character. He isn't interested in exposing the soul of the sitter in his portraits, he is purely about the physical and does not wrap his subjects up in semantics.
In 1995, he was sponsored by oil and gas giants BP to create a portrait based solo exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery titled Sayonara Pet. He focused on the cradle to grave work ethic in the Japanese car manufacturing industry, initially in Sunderland and shortly afterwards Tokyo, and documented the workers and their families.
Aside from his exploration of subculture, Tift has produced portraits of well known public figures. In 2006, Tift won the BP portrait award for his interpretation of Lucian Freud's first wife "Kitty". The portrait is a triptych featuring Kitty Garman who used to live in a small village just outside of Andrew's home town of Walsall. The triptych was inspired by John Freeman's "Face To Face" television interview series from the 1960s.
Tift has produced portraiture of a number of political figures including former London mayor Ken Livingstone, the Lord Carrington and the late Labour MP Tony Benn.
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