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Gold, Weinstein, the internet and Charles Harrop-Griffiths’s art

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A unique visual language: Bermuda artist Charles Harrop-Griffiths’s work is part of a display of non-fungible token art at The Loren in Austin, Texas (Photograph supplied)

As a teenager, whenever he talked about his future, Charles Harrop-Griffiths insisted he would have a career tied to the metaverse and that it would involve music, film and art.

Much as his father tried to set him straight, the millennial refused to listen. Technology had played a huge part in his life and he saw no reason why that should change.

“I've always been fascinated by music, film and art and I think the same kind of fire in me drives each the same way. I was stubborn and cocky about it, but I think that's what got me into virtual reality because it's basically all three together,” he said

“It’s just gaming. Game design is essentially all three of those things but it doesn't have that physicality. Most of my artworks, I get a knife and I score through metal; the lines are scored by hand.

“I want to find ways of entangling it with digital assets and vice versa because that's the world I've grown up in – I was born in 1991.”

Mr Harrop-Griffiths moved to Bermuda from London, England, a couple years ago with his wife, a lawyer at Appleby.

He has a background in film and architecture but of late, it’s his art that has attracted attention through exhibits in Dubai, London, Hong Kong, New York, Brazil, Paris, Austria and, of course, Bermuda.

He and Ajani Tucker are representing the island in an exhibit now on at The Loren’s sister hotel in Austin, Texas. Their work was curated by Holly Mazar-Fox and is part of a collection of NFTs on display.

It’s a journey Mr Harrop-Griffiths started on well before the age of ten.

At 13 he received an art scholarship which took him through to his A-levels in the UK. In university he studied art history because his parents “were a bit antsy” about him pursuing a pure arts degree and pushed for him to study something “slightly more academic”.

On graduating he joined the film industry, at one point working for disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, and then considered a career in music. “But art was always there,” he said.

By 2014 he had decided that his work with Weinstein was going nowhere. Six years later, the cofounder of the film company Miramax was convicted of sex charges and sentenced to jail.

A unique visual language: Bermuda artist Charles Harrop-Griffiths’s work is part of a display of non-fungible token art at The Loren in Austin, Texas (Photograph supplied)

In the meantime, Mr Harrop-Griffiths was channelling his efforts towards a master’s degree in fine arts: digital, at Camberwell College of Arts in London.

“It was a very specifically named course. They didn't want it to be called digital art because everyone would just want to apply to it to learn how to use Photoshop, whereas what the course leader wanted was for fine artists to come and reflect and respond to the impact of the digital world on today.”

On graduating, Mr Harrop-Griffiths worked with architecture firms on skyscrapers in London and New York.

“And then about three years ago, I finally went full time in my art,” he said.

Mr Harrop-Griffiths creates digital and physical art that reflects “the imbalance of physical and digital life today”, an interest that developed during his master’s work as he considered how social media was impacting people’s lives.

“I also became very interested in virtual reality and creating what is now the metaverse – a three-dimensional digital world in a very kind of conceptual and theoretical way rather than being a heavy-handed programmer,” he said. “A lot of my paintings and digital work kind of represent this bizarre kind of netscape, this new world we've created.”

A unique visual language: Bermuda artist Charles Harrop-Griffiths’s work is part of a display of non-fungible token art at The Loren in Austin, Texas (Photograph supplied)

His work with gold has proven popular, and was inspired by Renaissance and early Renaissance artworks.

“So Alberti and Brunelleschi – they were actually architects as well – Donatello, Ghiberti, all of these Florentine sculptors who were using things like linear perspective and new techniques to revitalise the religious message in architecture in a much more vibrant and interesting way,” he said.

“I've just always been fascinated by that. I'm not particularly religious myself but I find it interesting to create philosophical, spiritual, historical scenes; three-dimensional scenes that reflect the more secular world that we're in today.”

Harrop-Griffiths’s work to display here

Charles Harrop-Griffiths’s works will also be on display in Bermuda this month.

Art Drop Bermuda will open in the Regency Terrace of Hamilton Princess & Beach Club on July 26.

A reception will take place from 5.30pm until 7.30pm.

Out of that came The Human Condition, an ongoing body of work.

“The idea is that it's 152 cards, and each one is a different emotional life attribute. So there’s wisdom, chaos, order, greed – all of these different things that everyone will see in their own lives – and then I’ve kind of put them out there as these collectible cards.”

He’s close to completing the design of all the cards; ten are already on Instagram and available for sale.

“With each sale, the first round is just normal printed A2s that you get with the NFT. The next one is a woodblock print that I've laser-cut and then carved a little bit by hand that you get with the NFT,” he said.

“The next one will be going onto drawings, and then the next one will eventually go onto my gold paintings. So the idea is to try and find a balance between both physical and digital art, whilst offering it as an NFT. And the NFT sort of becomes a certificate for the art.”

It’s a tiny branch along his road as an artist, much of which is laid out on his Instagram page.

“I've got pretty acute and beautiful ADHD, so I'm constantly learning new things, constantly trying new things, constantly trying to put new things together. I don't know where it's going to end, but I like the journey,” he said.

“I draw every day; I paint in my studio every day. The gold work, that's kind of something I was doing for a very long time and it allowed me to go freelance, full-time, with a lot of commissions and things like that but the initial idea of these was to create landscapes of the internet.

“What does the internet look like in a painting? I'm just trying to create a unique visual language for my own work.”

What has thrilled him most is that it all seems to resonate with audiences.

“People do feel like we do live these sort of two lives – this life on our screen and this life in front of us. And it's sort of sad in a way that, at the moment, I feel like one is opposing the other,” he said.

A simple way of explaining it is how a person crossing a busy road while typing on their phone rather than looking out for traffic has a fair chance of getting hit, Mr Harrop-Griffiths said.

“But that e-mail might be the most important e-mail they’d ever written. So we need to find a balance but also celebrate the fact that the internet has given us so much, like all the best inventions in the world.

“A car can be used for bad things, it also has been used for the greatest things; fire can be used for terrible things, it can also be used to cook and be warm and have light and the internet’s exactly the same,” he added.

“Terrible things happen on the internet. Terrible social change has happened on the internet. However, amazing social changes happen on the internet. People living in communities where they never knew that they weren't the only person, can find their voice and their community. I mean, I think it's extraordinary.”

• Floating Through the Metaverse is on until September 8 at Paggi Housein Austin, Texas. Contact pennyaaron.theloren@gmail.com for an appointment to view. Learn more about Charles Harrop-Griffiths atindistinctchitchat.com or follow @indistinct_chatter on Instagram and TikTok and @indistinct_c on X

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Published July 04, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated July 05, 2024 at 8:12 am)

Gold, Weinstein, the internet and Charles Harrop-Griffiths’s art

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