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Grimes & Jones: Leeds Artists Bringing Humour to Art

Out of the frustration and boredom of adulthood, two Yorkshire lads formed Grimes & Jones to create impulsive, energetic works of art that challenge the stuffiness of the art world.

There’s a preconception that art galleries are serious, quiet places, frequented by adults. But is that really the case? One dynamic duo say no, and to prove it, they’ve put a fun and fancy-free twist of their work, proving that art doesn’t have to take itself too seriously – and neither should you.

“Hot & Smelly. Fat & Foxy. Crap & Pointy. Tired & Horny.” That’s how Lewis Grimes and Andrew Jones describe their work. As you look at their art you can’t help but smile. Created out of pure Freudian id energy and made with found materials, it’s messy, fun, unrestrained art cranked up to 11.

“We went to school together so we both have the constant need to outdo one another, to make the other laugh or get them in trouble,” Grimes told us. Embracing their arrested development, thicko youth and ‘soft hedonism’, Grimes & Jones and are fuelled and influenced by “crass hip-hop culture, perverse behaviour, sweets, sport and drinking… council estate culture basically”.

Grimes & Jones Listening to Big Freedia, 2013

Disillusioned by the art-education system, which as Grimes told us, “encourages people too much to try hard to be ‘the artist’ or over-analyse what you did and why you did it,” the pair decided to challenge it, going against the standard pro-quo and showing that the system did help mould them as budding Leeds artists, but not in they way you’d expect.

“In between signing on and apathetically applying for jobs we really didn’t want, we would spend our Summer afternoons playing FIFA and eating sweets,” Grimes explained, “we needed somewhere else to hide and something (seemingly) productive to do to save us from having to be responsible adults”. And so Grimes & Jones was formed out of boredom, frustration and childishness.

“We want our art to thrust its tackle in your face, to feel and smell like you have no choice but to be involved”, Grimes explained, “there’s something comforting about being in unconventional spaces like churches and basements – they help to mask the shoddy nature of our approach”.

When it comes down to it, Grimes & Jones are a pair of middle-class Catholic school boys who still feel like acting out. You’ll see the same playfulness, humour and cheekiness in their work which strives “to continue to challenge the ‘don’t touch’, sterile environment of conventional galleries,” as Grimes told us. They were even nearly kicked out of the Saatchi for their impulsiveness.

Grimes and Jones

Through action paintings using traditional acrylic paints, food and other materials, the duo really come alive. Their sculpture, drawings and paintings conjure up the creatively unconscious doodles of youth juxtaposed with heavier adult themes. You’ll see sexualised images of twerking women, the sobering reality of unemployment, the shallowness of popular culture and consumerism, as well as a few of their personal heroes.

One of their favourite Grimes & Jones works, Wanker’s Paradise, was inspired by the London riots and is one of their bombastic live action works. Grimes told us, “Live action paintings feel so raw and funny because we know it will escalate out of our control 5 pints in”. You can see the same energy in Big John, created using Special Brew, Pot Noodle and a job application.

The Leeds based artists have found the city to be a great haven for up and coming talent despite the lure of the Big Smoke. “I think perhaps Leeds is a great base for a growing artist who might want to showcase his work in London or elsewhere in the world,” Grimes commented, “a refugee camp for mucky Yorkshire creatives who don’t want to wear brown brogues and braces in South East London.”

Grimes & Jones are certainly making an impact on the art world. Their challenging and light-hearted work has been displayed, ‘everywhere from a knackered terraced house in Lincoln to the Southbank Centre’. The artists even aspire to open their own gallery in Leeds one day. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out and hope that you do too.