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Jon Pilkington Extraordinary art from the ordinary

Art need not be pretentious and profound – as long as it’s well-executed with an eye for color and meticulously placed strokes. Jon Pilkington, an Englishman who moved to Copenhagen, now makes art out of football.
Pilkington is a Liverpool lad who earned an MA in Painting from Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. He once lived and worked in bustling London but tired of commuting so many hours a day. So after visiting a Copenhagen exhibit, he moved to Denmark.

“My life was a bit depressing at that time,” said Pilkington. “All I seemed to do was go to the train, take the tube, walk to the studio, and work. Again and again. Coming to Copenhagen triggered feelings of freedom. I can jump on my bike in Nørrebro, and I’m in my harbor studio (Sydhavnen) within 20 minutes. Imagine what that does to creativity! Copenhagen’s pace is totally different.”
When we dropped in on him, Pilkington was just a few days into a new art project for a Shanghai exhibition in 2021. Distinct paint and solvent smells hit us as we entered a totally white studio with huge expressive, colorful canvases lining the walls. In the midst of all this stood a bearded, red-haired painter whose pants matched the paint-splattered floor.

“You’re a bit lucky to catch me now,” he said. “I just started this project, which means I’m free to paint without constraints or limitations. I just open my mind and paint freely. If you’d come in a few months, it would be nearly finished, and I’d just be fine-tuning and less creative.”
My mind always returns to
a few things: pubs and football.
My last exhibit had a pub theme;
this time it’s football. As long as
it’s handled well or painted well
or the colors are good,
it can be anything.”
Harsh reality hit Pilkington early on when he realized that he wasn’t going to be a professional football player. So he had to come up with something else – even though he still loves football.

“The fact is, I wasn’t good at anything else – except drawing and painting, which I always did as a kid. I never imagined that I’d become a professional artist. But when I dropped out of school, I started to take some art classes, and since then, things just keep rolling...”
And that’s a bit how we perceived him – a simple, relaxed guy who happens to do what he loves and is very good at it – and successful.

“I don’t go to many exhibitions – I’m not an art guy in that way. I avoid looking at too much art to avoid getting overly influenced. It’s great to be able to embrace what’s close to you. I mean you don’t have to generate a profound idea of what things should be about – they could be about anything. My mind always returns to a few things: pubs and football. My last exhibit had a pub theme; this time it’s football. As long as it’s handled well or painted well or the colors are good, it can be anything.”
Pilkington directed us up a steep ladder onto the warehouse roof to show us where he paints – weather allowing. The wind tugged his long hair and the painting he brought up to the roof.

“Look at the view and feel the freedom up here. I really love this!”

We love that he can see beauty in a pretty rough harbor area with the sea on the horizon. And we understand the light – and the feeling of being able to paint under an open sky. We returned to the studio and Pilkington started kicking the football that he kept in the studio.

“Well, my studio is the only place in which I can logically play football on any level I want,” he laughed.

1-0 to Pilkington. And we really look forward to the Shanghai Exhibition!

Jon Pilkington — Extraordinary art from the ordinary

Art need not be pretentious and profound – as long
as it’s well-executed with an eye for color and meticulously
placed strokes. Jon Pilkington, an Englishman who moved
to Copenhagen, now makes art out of football.
Pilkington is a Liverpool lad who earned an MA in Painting from Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. He once lived and worked in bustling London but tired of commuting so many hours a day. So after visiting a Copenhagen exhibit, he moved to Denmark.

“My life was a bit depressing at that time,” said Pilkington. “All I seemed to do was go to the train, take the tube, walk to the studio, and work.
Again and again. Coming to Copenhagen triggered feelings of freedom. I can jump on my bike in Nørrebro, and I’m in my harbor studio (Sydhavnen) within 20 minutes. Imagine what that does to
creativity! Copenhagen’s pace is totally different.”

When we dropped in on him, Pilkington was just a few days into a new art project for a Shanghai exhibition in 2021. Distinct paint and solvent smells hit us as we entered a totally white studio with huge expressive, colorful canvases lining the walls. In the midst of all this stood a bearded, red-haired painter whose pants matched the paint-splattered floor.
“You’re a bit lucky to catch me now,” he said. “I just started this project, which means I’m free to paint without constraints or limitations. I just open my mind and paint freely. If you’d come in a few months, it would be nearly finished, and I’d just be fine-tuning and less creative.”

Harsh reality hit Pilkington early on when he realized that he wasn’t going to be a professional football player. So he had to come up with something else – even though he still loves football.

“The fact is, I wasn’t good at anything else – except drawing and painting, which I always did as a kid. I never imagined that I’d become a professional artist. But when I dropped out of school, I started to take some art classes, and since then, things just keep rolling...”
My mind always returns to
a few things: pubs and football.
My last exhibit had a pub theme;
this time it’s football. As long as
it’s handled well or painted well
or the colors are good, it can be anything.”
And that’s a bit how we perceived him – a simple, relaxed guy who happens to do what he loves and is very good at it – and successful.

“I don’t go to many exhibitions – I’m not an art guy in that way. I avoid looking at too much art to avoid getting overly influenced. It’s great to be able to embrace what’s close to you. I mean you don’t have to generate a profound idea of what things should be about – they could be about anything. My mind always returns to a few things: pubs and football. My last exhibit had a pub theme; this time it’s football. As long as it’s handled well or painted well or the colors are good, it can be anything.”
Pilkington directed us up a steep ladder onto the warehouse roof to show us where he paints – weather allowing. The wind tugged his long hair and the painting he brought up to the roof.

“Look at the view and feel the freedom up here. I really love this!” We love that he can see beauty in a pretty rough harbor area with the sea on the horizon. And we understand the light – and the feeling of being able to paint under an open sky. We returned to the studio and Pilkington started kicking the football that he kept in the studio.

“Well, my studio is the only place in which I can logically play football on any level I want,” he laughed.

1-0 to Pilkington. And we really look forward to the Shanghai Exhibition!
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