Narbi Price

Narbi Price

Artist, Technician, Teacher, Researcher, Gallery educator

Narbi Price is interested in perceived histories of locations and how painting can question the understanding of architectural and pictorial space. He is engaged with challenging the conventions of photographically derived painting in terms of paint application and composition, and in blurring the line between the figurative and the abstract.

His paintings are derived from photographs taken on trips, as a result of meticulous research, to very exact sites – places that have witnessed a range of events, from murders to whimsical acts that have spawned folklore.

For example ‘Untitled Black Door Painting (304)’ shows the front door to the home of Joe Meek, pioneering record producer, most famous for the iconic Telstar by The Tornados. It was here that in 1967, sunken into debt and depression, Meek shot and killed his landlady and himself.

‘Untitled Canal Painting’ depicts a beauty spot where a Victorian drunkard murdered his wife and where English soap star Pat Phoenix ran a popular pub close to a century later.

‘Untitled Well Painting’ takes the location of the Lambton Well, a significant site in North East English folklore, celebrated in the song, The Lambton Worm. Claimed as the well where Lord Lambton threw the Wyrm (or Worm) before leaving to fight in the First Crusade, of particular interest is that this site is almost certainly not what it claims to be (it's on top of Worm Hill, in Wormhill Terrace) but shares many topographical characteristics with an industrial slag heap. 

For his recent solo exhibition, ‘Shan’t Quit’, Narbi Price presented a series of paintings and lithographic prints of the locations of the Whitechapel, London, ‘Jack The Ripper’ murders of 1888, based on photographs of the sites as they are today. Using the forensic information from the time, Price was able to take photographs accurate to within 30cm of the exact sites, now variously car parks, schoolyards, loading bays, etc. There is no immediate indication to the viewer of the depicted sites’ histories. The only acknowledgement is that the works’ titles are suffixed with the victims’ initials in brackets – making it possible to decode the provenance of the locations. Once the viewer knows the history of the depicted site, the reading of the painting changes irrevocably. Price invites rumination upon the contrast between the histories of any given site and the mundanity of the experience of it – an effect heightened by the mediation of the painting process.

Price’s use of disparate techniques and deliberately disharmonious compositions push the works to the point where they teeter on the edge of dissolution. His intention is to produce a subtly disorientating effect in the viewer – there is an awkwardness or sense of unease about the images, but it is not immediately obvious why.

read full statement

Location Newcastle upon Tyne, North East
Activities Higher education, Further education, Adult education, Lecturing, Practice-based research
Artforms / type of project Consultancy, Drawing, Mixed Media, Painting, Printmaking
Tags painting, john moores, acrylic, urban, formal, photorealism, canvas, abstract, geometric, lithograph