COMMUNITY, CULTURE + COLOUR : GEORGE BYRNE
Pip Edwards and Claire Tregoning are long-time fans of Sydney-born, LA-based artist and photographer George Byrne. When the two co-founders of P.E Nation began gathering inspiration for the brand's overall look and aesthetic in 2015, both were inspired by the scenes, colour palette and composition of George's works.
"George's take on everyday urban and sport landscapes and situations - focusing on real contexts, and his ability to take everyday mundane scenes and draw out their beauty through colour pops and unique composition - speaks to the heart of our brand and what we stand for. Always has and always will." - Pip Edwards
The viewpoint, the softness, the hardness, the beauty in the realness and ordinary, the everyday aspect throughout George's work, resonates visually with how Pip and Claire see P.E Nation. His unique use of colour blocking, colour pop and composition of the everyday landscape brings a whole new life and vantage point to the ordinary world.
Pip and Claire sat down with George to talk about his art, and his connection to colour and community.
Why is colour so important to you? Where does this love for your colour palette come from?
Colour effects the human psyche in many cool and mysterious ways. Experiencing colour is very central to my experience of being alive in the world. The colour palette I work in is derived largely from the bleached-out urban landscapes of Southern California. What I love about these chalky, desaturated colours is that they’re calming.
Why do you choose everyday situations like car parks, swimming pools, roadside kerbs and pedestrian crossings, urban scenes, and buildings as your base subject?
There is a humility in utilitarian urban spaces that makes them appealing to me. I like the idea/challenge/irony of making something out of nothing. Walking around in my brain, it’s a bit like the 6th Sense, but instead of seeing dead people, I see an interaction between a kerb, a bollard, a wall and the sky - all the time and everywhere.
Share a favourite place, and the feeling it brings – a building, trip, landscape…
There is a café/bakery in east LA called Proof Bakery that makes a simple ham & cheese roll that stops time. The coffee is perfect. The baked goods are world class. The people are so friendly. There is no pretension, there is no desire for world domination. This may sound silly, but this place brings me so much joy because they just do things right, it’s so simple and consistent and wonderful and they battled and survived and stayed open throughout the hellish year we just had over here. I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.
What’s your favourite release?
Running up hills.
How do you engage and connect with the broader community through your art?
Exhibiting is a great way to do that, as you get to meet a whole bunch of strangers in person, and you get to chat about art and perception and all the rest of it. I find my work challenges a lot of people’s ideas about photography, so I often get into really interesting chats about all that. I just released a book too, so I’ve recently had hundreds of meaningful interactions with people from all over the world about that too – mainly over IG.
How do you give back?
Over the last 5 years my studio has been teaming up with a bunch of great causes here in LA: The Art Of Elysium, BLM, Amnesty and most recently we’re in talks with LA’s Downtown Women’s Center on some cool fundraising initiatives.
What is one of your favourite daily rituals?
Hiking up at Griffith Park without my phone - critical mental reset.
What are you most proud of?
My girlfriend, my family, and my pals.
What is the theme or focus for your upcoming exhibition at Sydney’s Olsen Gallery in October?
I’m still working on it, but I think this show will have elements of the desert juxtaposed with urban settings, I’m endeavoring to drill down a little and see what feelings I can conjure up from the arid natural landscape that LA is built on. But then again that may change – so stay tuned!
What are you most looking forward to right now?
Going to a movie again. I’ll see anything. Just to post-up with my popcorn and medium Coke (extra ice) and watch the lights go down. Ahhhhhh.