Hart Dyke, James Hart Dyke, was offered a mission by Her Majesty’s Government: to go undercover with MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, and report on the life of undercover agents in paintings and drawings.
Hart Dyke has been official artist on four royal tours with Prince Charles and has been embedded as a war artist in Iraq and Afghanistan, but was surprised by the request “go undercover” for several months, travel with MI6 agents to places like Iraq (image above, 3rd down), visit their headquarters (above, top) and convey in paintings the day to day life of agents in the British foreign intelligence service.
The agency had decided this was a way for the public to get a better understanding of this often misunderstood part of their government.
Hart Dyke found the actual experiences of the field agents not very James Bond like, but became fascinated with the way the unexpected (and potentially dangerous) lurked beneath the ordinary. As a result many of his paintings portray ordinary scenes, in which agents wait, or look for significant events or information.
The show of the work consists of 40 paintings, 25 drawings and a number of prints. Some of them can be seen on Hart Dyke’s site (along with his landscapes, image above, bottom; and other work) as well as in a slideshow accompanying an article about his experience on The Guardian.
Hart Dyke’s color palette ranges from rich and brilliant to softly atmospheric and almost monochromatic. All of his work, his painting particularly, carries a strong feeling of geometry, both underlying his forms and in the bold, textural chunks of color in which he applies his paint.