Paintings from an Espionage insider

10:15 AM

Waiting in the hotel room by James Hart Dyke
Even though I am a sucker for all things James Bond, I am less than excited about the new Bond movie, Skyfall. (True story: today I eagerly checked Youtube for Skyfall's trailer just to realize I had already seen it weeks before - talk about lasting impression).

Meeting an agent by James Hart Dyke

This is why I was fascinated by James Hart Dyke's series of paintings entitled "A Year with the MI6". 

In 2009, the centenary year of MI6, Dyke was invited by the British Secret Intelligence Service to depict the secret world of espionage. According to Dyke, "the pictures represented an outsider’s unique interpretation of an existence that, for those who work in SIS [Secret Intelligence Service], can often be dangerous and surreal".

Agent giving information to SIS officer by James Hart Dyke

The paintings are incredible, because they seem to have a balance between the insider's and the outsider's point of view. 

The insider knows that an agent's job is more boring and less glamorous than what we see in movies (they have meetings, they exchange information etc).

The outsider thinks spies date a lot of gorgeous women, break the law all the time, get involved in car/airplane/boat chases because most of the information he has of spies comes from movies and books. And the paintings are, as Flavorwire described them, "shadowy". They are dark and blurry just like the world of espionage  is to us - we never really know what goes on there.

Espionage by James Hart Dyke

Maybe Daniel Craig's jaded eyes are closer to life than Pierce Brosnan's suave charm.

You can check all paintings in the artist's website.

What do you think of Dyke's paintings? (In a related topic: Are you excited by the new James Bond movie?)

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  1. These paintings are so cool! Thank you for sharing. Also, I am BEYOND excited for the new Bond film!! :)

    1. I really liked them too! Let me know what you think of the movie, I'm still not sure if I'll watch it or not. xx

  2. I am very excited about these paintings!!! Thank you. I wasn't aware of this artist. I have a fascination about spies and have been trying to think of a blog post to write - I don't know that there are a lot of spy poems!

    My spy fascination is mainly related to John Le Carre. I first read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold when I was no more than 14 and was hooked. I either enjoy or am amazed by most of his books - other favourites are Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Smiley's People, The Constant Gardener, A Small Town in Germany and Absolute Friends.

    I've been trying to figure out why the spy world fascinates me. It's honestly a pretty sad, dark world as presented in Le Carre. Most of its inhabitants are not at all glamorous, like his great spymaster George Smiley (who is a brilliantly depicted character.) I think I'm interested in things which are undercover/clandestine, and in the moral ambiguity. Le Carre really is an excellent writer and master of style, too. I've seen him read/talk in London a couple of times, and at the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy premiere, which was so exciting as he doesn't make many public appearances.

    I've never been a big Bond fan but I like Daniel Craig a lot. ;) I will probably see the new film. To me, though, Bond doesn't have a lot to do with spies. It's more action/adventure. These amazing paintings seem much more Le Carre than Bond, to me.

    I'll stop rambling now; you can see this topic gets me going! ;)

    1. Hi Clarissa, I remember you mentioned liking John Le Carre and I still need to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But I didn't know he wrote The Constant Gardner! I've seen this movie and liked it a lot.

      It's interesting what you mentioned about Bond movies not really being about spies. Most of us will never see a secret agent but we've all seen a James Bond movie. The reality is probably very different than what we see in the screen.

      You made me wonder what is it that I like about the spy world and I'm afraid my answer is much more futile. I think I just like the idea of international intrigue and an international man of mystery! xx

  3. WOW! and they say being a painter isn't exciting! I think i'm going to be a painter now.

    Loved to paintings!

    I didn't know there was going to be a new James Bond movie. ._.

    1. Can you imagine what was it like for an artist to work in this project? I'd say it was something between exciting and dangerous!

      Yeah, there's a new Bond movie. I didn't know it at first also. I saw people talking about Skyfall but didn't think it was a new James Bond movie. think it's because we are used to seeing Daniel Craig do all sorts of movies, not just Bond. xx

  4. Thanks for sharing these, Paula! Very cool! "Meeting an Agent" is going as my desktop backgroud.I'm a sucker for espionage too. Although the styles completely different,"Nighthawks" by Edward Hooper has always seemed like an espionage scene to me.I enjoyed your insightful commentary,espically on the insider's/outsider's point of view.

    1. "Meeting an agent" is my favorite picture of the series - it's amazing.

      I've never thought about it like that, but now that you mentioned it, "Nighthawks" could be an espionage scene! I've always thought that picture was something more like "end of the night/end of the party" sort of thing. Does that make any sense? ;)

  5. I like them, and I think the scale is right for them too. They really remind me of Gerhard Richter, which is no bad thing at all

    1. I haven't heard of Gerhard Richter before, so I did a little google research. I think I know what you mean, both artists go for that "blurry" effect. Richter's paintings seem very innovative. xx

  6. Oh, I like. So moody, and yes, with the blurriness, newspaper photo feel and monochrome palette totally Gerard Richter.


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