When asked about his venture from comic illustration to his more abstract and surreal illustration, artist Graham Yarrington offers a candid observation: “I’ve always found that painting is the best therapy. I think that sadness and struggle will always play an important role in my growth as an artist.” Growing up Rochester, New York, his work is informed by his childhood surroundings- “lots of open space and trees”- manifested in highly imaginative ink and gouache landscapes. Though his work is at times bright and fantastical, the stuff of daydreams and Grimm’s fairy tales, there is also a darkness that the artist can’t shake.
Yarrington’s images are haunted by mysterious shadowy giants and animal spirits, who navigate a world ripe with religious symbolism: totems, sacred objects, and Celtic tree knots, wrapped around rainbow-colored geodes or stones. “I’m not religious, but I think there are some religious themes that will be forever embedded in my subconscious as a result of being raised in a religious home. I think the combination of some sort of moral code with the downright creepy has always resonated with me,” Yarrington wrote to Hi-Fructose.
One of his recurring characters is one that he simply refers to as a “shadow”; a tall, somewhat see-through figure with glowing eyes that aimlessly wanders through groves of bare trees (“Forest Wraith”) and towers over cabins in the woods (“Curious Phantoms”). Yarrington relates this dark and curious creature to his own fears and bouts of depression, something that he admits to struggling with for most of his life:
“According to [Carl] Jung, everyone has a dark side to their personality that can surface in various ways,” he says. “I like to think of that large ghostly figure in my work as a physical embodiment of this “shadow aspect”, brought to existence by so many peoples unwillingness to come to terms with the dark parts of themselves.” Adding, “The world is a gloomy place, and the belief that there is something more to it than meets the eye helps me get through the rough days.”