Reuben Colley

Ashore by Reuben Colley
Siesta by Reuben Colley
The Blue Table by Reuben Colley
Yellow Parasol by Reuben Colley
Three Parasols by Reuben Colley
The Villa by Reuben Colley
The Sandbar by Reuben Colley
The Pool by Reuben Colley
Pure Blue II by Reuben Colley
Pure Blue I by Reuben Colley
Autumn Reflections by Reuben Colley
Late Summer by Reuben Colley
Landscape II by Reuben Colley
Landscape I by Reuben Colley
Having removed himself of any commercial shackles – despite having blazed a fantastic and rewarding career chapter with the UK’s leading fine art publishing lights, Washington Green (he ultimately wanted to do his ‘own thing’ – Birmingham born, bred and still based contemporary landscape artist, Reuben Colley is now pursuing his own creative agenda and answering only to himself. At the same time, he’s in the throes of putting together an artist collective which he himself is spearheading, harking back to his student days where he first experienced the creative edge that bouncing ideas off and brainstorming a group of like-minded souls can give an aspiring artist.

As has pretty much always been the illustrative case, Colley concentrates his compositions on his beloved Birmingham, Britain’s unofficial second city, and one which affords the contemporary urban landscape artist a raft of eclectic panoramas and architecturally-blotted vistas from which to choose as their graphic reference point. Described in many quarters as a ‘real painter’ Colley is the man behind a slew of gritty, uncompromising cityscapes which paint the picture as it’s meant to be, and pleasingly bereft of any ill-advised sense of romance or, in Colley’s words, ‘anything twee’. Now in his late 30s, Colley displayed impressive art attributes from an early age and was encouraged every step of the way by his art teachers. One such teacher was James Byrne who was Colley’s mentor at Handsworth Grammar School who recognised his talent from the outset. So much so that he afforded Colley part of the secondary school’s art block (along with access to its resources) so that Colley could focus his undoubted creative attentions with minimal distraction from other students, who, let’s say, might not have taken the subject as seriously (or as single-mindedly dedicated) as Colley.

Although this might have been perceived as favouritism by some, the investment in Colley paid off for the school’s art clearly smitten art department when he repaid the debt of gratitude by gaining A grades at both GCSE and A Level reckoning, the latter one coming with an additional * and seeing Colley receiving an unprecedented 100% pass rate in the process. Harking back to this elatory time and Colley adds; “I did my first ever oil piece for my GCSE exam and that was me set then”. Indeed, on the back of this success he secured a place on the B/TEC National Diploma Art and Design course as offered by Bournville College of Art in Birmingham, before heading to nearby Wolverhampton and its university to gain a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. With regards to the latter course, Colley quips that it had a mixed experience there, admitting that he didn’t necessarily see eye to eye with his tutors who pretty much left students to their own devices in an empty facility building. On the plus side he formed a small art appreciation group in the midst of this, all of whom used the time to bounce ideas off each other and almost feel like they were living life as proper artists; which of course substantiated the belief that Colley had found his natural calling.

On leaving Uni Colley’s work caught the attention of Washington Green, one of the UK’s foremost fine art publishers who owned The Halcyon Gallery where Colley initially found employment as a picture framer; before leaving some of his own work around the workshop one day which was (as planned) seen by the powers that be. Those powers that be entered into a contractual agreement to represent Colley, and so began a relationship that was to pan out for the best part of a decade, during which time Colley well and truly established himself as a contemporary landscape artist. However ultimately Colley sought greater indpendance as an artist, and despite acknowledging the huge part that Washington Green played in gaining him exposure and helping him forge the reputation that he now enjoys, Colley craved freedom once more.

Artistic differences resulted in a parting of company which brought about the next phase in Colley’s life. His signature compositional work was steadily becoming grittier and empowering a darker illustrative presence, which is the direction he wanted his art to head in, and which fitted into his rich and diverse Birmingham-based creative playground. However Washington Green expressed their desire for him to create more predominant London-based paintings, with views to attracting the interests of a larger and wealthier purchasing demographic in the South-East. Colley comments; “I wanted to paint Birmingham and not London. I was fed up with going to places that didn’t mean much to me and having to paint them”. This in the end fuelled his decision to go it alone.

In 2010 Colley founded the Reuben Colley Gallery in the Moseley district of his native Birmingham, which as well as showcasing his own works is a home for aspiring artists who are also invited to exhibit and sell their works from this establishment. Engendering a creative circle so to speak, Colley dubbed this creative think-tank ‘Meet the Unromantics’, which counts amongst its members his former art teacher, Byrne. His hope, ideal and vision is for like-minded artists to feel suitably free and responsible for generating and producing the sort of art that they want to and that they’re happy with, away from the constraints of third party contracts and regularly reminds people as to the freedom he enjoyed during his higher educational studies to develop and evolve as an aspiring artist finding their way in the contemporary world.

In spite of being warned that he’d struggle with this concept outside of London, where the major art galleries and art buying market remains, Colley’s West Midlands-based gallery has flourished and proved critic wrong, and proved in no uncertain terms that paintings of Birmingham’s Rotunda and iconic Bull Ring can sell just as well as (yet another) view of Big Ben or Piccadilly Circus.

View All Art Works By Reuben Colley