Lincoln Lightfoot brings dinosaurs and King Kong to York

SOUTH Bank surrealist Lincoln Lightfoot is letting his gloriously ridiculous B-movie nightmares loose on the Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social café bars in York.

For two months, past meets present and a forewarned future in both retro art style and subject matter in Revelation, his humorously absurdist depictions of surreal encounters with beasts and creatures as they take over landmark locations, rather than the usual tourists doing so.

“Revelation is an appropriate title hinting at supernatural things,” says Lincoln. “It’s no coincidence that it suggests happenings of biblical significance as it refers to the last book of the Bible and a second coming. It’s also apt as the word literally means ‘a revealing’.”

On show in Micklegate Social are the first release of Lincoln’s larger, compelling paintings, 150 by 100cm in size, complemented by giclee prints of those new works at Fossgate Social, all of them for sale.

King Kong at the Minster, as painted by Lincoln Lightfoot

Hartlepool-born Lincoln developed his love of York, its heritage, buildings and culture, while studying Fine Art and Contemporary Practice at York St John University and first exhibited prints at Fossgate Social in 2018.

Now comes Revelation’s exploration of surreal happenings in compositions that echo the B-movie poster art of the 1950s and ’60s. “During that time, the Cold War kept us in perpetual fear of extinction from nuclear Armageddon until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet bloc,” says Lincoln.

“At such times of crisis when the population lives in fear, art mirrors these fears. A Cold War fear of nuclear Armageddon has now returned with Putin threatening to nuke us daily because of continuing support for the Ukrainians.”

Revelation taps into the condition of fear being perpetuated by our 24-hour rolling news media and politicians in the post Covid-19 world, suggests Lincoln. “This show, with its threatening visitsations of beasts and creatures, attempts to highlight these fears through a safe and comical lens,” he says.

“Juxtaposed with local scenes of our story-book city, it’s not hard to imagine incredible things happening in this part of the world because they already have. One is in a perpetual state of anticipation as to what the next will be!

“After the massacre of Jews in Clifford’s Tower, war with Scots, sieges in the English Civil War, lightning striking the Minster on the eve of the ordination of a controversial bishop, York is expectant with ghost hunters and sci-fi buffs.

“In the present-day, it’s becoming easier to distrust politicians, large company executives and the media. It seems to me that the world has become laughably money driven with hidden initiatives. When you can’t believe reality, it makes my artwork more relatable. ”

When he was younger, Lincoln took no interest in the news. “I probably thought it was ‘boring’; these days I wonder if my generation is trying to make it more interesting and has turned to unbelievable plots lines, twists and unrealistic personalities,” he says.

“I question the stupidity of it all and then realize it’s naive to believe that the world has never been this annoyingly worrying before. The work aims to echo the zeitgeist of our times.

York Press: Surrealist nightmares by Lincoln LightfootSurrealist nightmares by Lincoln Lightfoot

“From the Brothers Grimm to Disney movies, we are taught to deal with difficult real-life scenarios. My disbelief for current world events cushions my conscience. I hope that my artwork is a humorous release from the real world.

“I find it increasingly reminiscent of the creation of Godzilla in 1954. Godzilla being a Hollywood-whitewashed Hiroshima metaphor. The ‘King of Monsters!’ is a reminder of past atrocities in the hope that they are never to be repeated. ”

What makes York such a wonderful city to depict in art, Lincoln? “York is a picture-book city. Its beauty and architecture is reason enough to visit but don’t be fooled; York isn’t just a pretty face. It has compelling history to accompany its looks, whatever your favorite period in time, “he says.

“There is architecture from every age, stepping into an architectural time machine, from the lonely Roman column next to the Minster to the mediaeval Clifford’s Tower. Painting its complex architecture keeps you looking and the eye never tires at nuances of light and shadow raking across buttresses, ramparts, arches and chimneys.

With banal street names such as Mad Alice Lane and Whip-whop-ma-gates, you can easily be left questioning whether or not this is a real place. One can see why the city has been captured by so many artists over centuries. ”

For all his nightmare visions, Lincoln loves living in York. “Life can be stressful at times, but a walk among the elaborate architectural beauty forces you out of yourself,” he says.

“Every venture into the city, one notices something new like a quaint passageway to hidden dwellings, or ornamentation such as gargoyles and unique roof features.

“I would recommend a journey out in early morning or twilight as the light rakes across surfaces and there are not many people around. This is when the city is at its most expectant.”

Expectant, yes, but stags and hens, racegoers and tourists are still more likely to visit than King Kong and aliens, UFOs and dinosaurs aren’t they, Lincoln?

Watch out! Now his B-movie monsters are starting to take over familiar global locations too, from Paris to New York, as this 2021 and 2022 York Open Studios participant pursues his passion for art full time after leaving his post as a secondary school head of art in County Durham.

Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social, York, present Lincoln Lightfoot’s exhibition Revelation from May 7 to July 7.

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