Infatuation with ‘a boy in the Dingle’ inspires the artist’s ‘brutal’ designs

A celebrated painter from Liverpool has launched his own online creative arts brand.

Internationally based Gary Solars, 63, who lives and works in Aigburth, made the transition from visual artist to art entrepreneur during the most recent lockdown. The result, gaymunkyartjunky.com, launched on May 17th.

Described as “a place for extraordinary monkeys everywhere,” the online store sells verified, made-to-order prints of some of his most acclaimed paintings and graphics, and apparel featuring many of his best-known “cheeky” designs.

Gary said, “I’ve got fine art, graphic stuff, and I’ve got slogans. The fine art is what I’ve always done: huge oil paintings that take six months or more to complete. They’re usually in galleries because hardly anyone can afford them. Prints and T-shirts are within reach for many more people.’

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“The Lil ‘n Don series is my cute stuff. They come from when I was quite in love with a guy in the Dingle. I wrote him love letters all the time, with little doodles on the front, like a real *** * Then all of a sudden I thought, I have little people here. The doodles were characters with their own stories, and I thought they were dead cute. I have about 25 of them now.”

Gary began painting large-scale canvases while studying graphics and graphics at Middlesex University School of Art in the late 1970s. While studying, he ran stalls selling his prints and vintage clothing in Camden, Carnaby Street and Kensington Markets. ‘I suppose gaymunkyartjunky is a 21st century version of that.’

‘It involved a lot of research, trying to find out what print-on-demand is, sending samples, testing and seeing what came back. That takes a lot of time and a lot of money. But you have to find the right things that you like to put your name on. I’ve got boxes and boxes of samples upstairs.’

Gary is currently filming a series of instructional videos on his approach to composition and imaging, which will be published on the site shortly. They are intended for people who already paint but want to develop a more methodical approach, and for people who are more generally interested in the processes of artists.

His work has been nominated for the John Moores Painting Prize and the internationally prestigious BP Portrait Award. He has exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester and the Berlin Kunstsalon.

His recent self-portrait, titled Class Queer! (Work) is currently on display at the Walker Art Gallery, as part of their new exhibition Refractive Pool: Contemporary Painting in Liverpool.



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