The Connor Brothers represent the London artist duo Mike Snelle and James Golding. Known for their works that riff off old romance book covers, the Connor Brothers have also come to be known for their fundraising and advocacy for various charitable causes.Read More
London art dealers and former Cambridge classmates Mike Snelle and James Golding invented the Connor Brothers identity in 2012, while living together in Golding's studio. At the time, Snelle had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Golding was recovering from addiction. They began experimenting with art-making as a means to see the world in a more positive light.
Snelle and Golding invented fictional American twins Franklyn and Brendan Connor as an alias for their art, claiming the elusive twins had escaped a Californian cult called The Family. They had made their way to New York, and were making art to make sense of the world. The duo exhibited under the Connor Brothers alias for 18 months, selling out shows in London, Sydney, and Los Angeles, and making a record sale at Bonhams.
After revealing their true identities in 2014, Snelle and Golding have continued to present their artworks under the Connor Brothers pseudonym.
The Connors Brothers' paintings and prints draw from popular culture, parodying vintage book covers and movie posters by adding witty captions. Like their artistic persona, the duo's works often explore the blurred lines between truth and fiction.
The Connor Brothers' painting series 'True Love Stories' (2013–2014) established the tone for the duo's ongoing appropriations of vintage romance novels. Disrupting the standardised format of Mills & Boon book covers , the pair satirically critique the true nature of modern relationships in a digital age with the addition of deadpan text.
In Brad's First Time (2014), the female character expresses her dismay at the discovery of her partner's romantic inexperience in very modern terms: 'You, gotta, be, shittin', me.' Similarly, in You'll Call, Won't You? (2013), the woman responds to the clichéd question with an apathetic, 'yea, whatever.' Romantic happy-endings are smashed with modern-day cynicism and dysfunction.
The Connor Brothers refined this formula of image and text in their 'Pulp Fiction' series (2016–2020), pairing dime novel pinups with captions such as, 'Truth is weirder than any fiction I've seen'; 'I drink to make other people interesting'; and 'any artist who takes himself seriously, does not deserve to be taken seriously'. These have been rendered in acerbic paintings, prints, and painted wooden book replicas.
In 2015, the Connor Brothers produced a refugee-themed act performed by the Russian feminist group Pussy Riot for Banksy's Dismaland exhibition. Later that year, the duo and members of Pussy Riot visited the refugee camp Calais Jungle, where they helped to build shelters.
From this event, the Connor Brothers' #refuchic project emerged: a series of fake glossy magazine covers for publications including Vogue, Hello, and Condé Nast, that portrayed struggling refugees in the place of models and celebrities. Since 2017, these works have been presented on advertisement billboards around the world.
In 2021, the Connor Brothers partnered with Maddox Gallery and former Oasis front man Noel Gallagher for a limited-edition charity print for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Taking its title from the Oasis song 'All Around the World', These Are Crazy Days (2021) features an archetypal 1950s blonde woman under the words, 'THESE ARE CRAZY DAYS BUT THEY MAKE ME SHINE'.
The Connor Brothers have also supported the U.K. mental health charity, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).
The Connor Brothers' 2022 series 'Regression' was inspired by the output of art therapy sessions the pair underwent during lockdown. A departure from their usual crisp, graphic style, this new series comprises pairings of text and image rendered in an intentionally childlike, naive style.
Imagining a return to simpler times amidst a contemporary society enraptured by technology, these artworks feature fantastical creatures including dinosaurs, fire-breathing dragons, two-headed dogs, and unicorns flying through rainbows. Countering these childhood visions with modern anxieties and technological obsessions, the artists incorporate familiar keywords and phrases such as 'triggered', 'cancel culture', 'passive aggressive', 'crypto', 'anxiety', and 'self-isolating'.
The Connor Brothers have been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.
Select solo exhibitions include Mythomania, Maddox Gallery, London (2022); Extraordinary People, Casterline | Goodman Gallery, Aspen (2020); All My Life I've Been a Liar and That's the Truth, Nanda\Hobbs, New South Wales (2017); True Love Stories, Guy Hepner, Los Angeles (2013).
Select group exhibitions include New York on Paper, West Chelsea Contemporary, New York (2022); Best of British, Maddox Gallery, Gstaad (2018); Labyrinth of Lies, Venet Haus Gallery, Berlin (2017); The Collective, House of St Barnabas, London (2016).
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2022