Theresa Thompson finds nostalgia in the work of artist Martin Grover

Vinyl records are back in business. Record player sales are rising through the roof, collectors still dig through dusty crates of dog-eared LPs on weekend afternoons, and down at Oxford’s Art Jericho a glorious exhibition of tromp l’oeil paintings of the crinkled careworn paper sleeves of 70s singles plugs into this passion.

The extrovert orange of the sleeve of Stand By Me, the title of Martin Grover’s show, the song sung by Ben E King in 1967, virtually zings from the wall, apparently imprinted with the disc it once protected. Nearby, Thin Lizzy’s Whisky in the Jar from Decca calls, a nostalgia trip, the lyrics spinning in my head like the sleeve’s Matisse-like azure blue spiral.

I went straight to YouTube when I got home to continue my trip down memory lane. You may do the same unless, like Grover, you have your own collection of golden oldies. Either way, the art on view here plays its own magic.

“This exhibition is an unabashed celebration of Martin Grover’s joyous vinyl paintings,” says the gallery’s Jenny Blyth. “These paintings have pop art appeal but are fun and warm too. I like that it’s realist but funky too. These paintings capture the moment – you can’t wait to put the music on.”

Martin is a consummate realist painter, and the paintings are an extension of what he loves.

“Music has played an important part in my life, both growing up and as an artist,” he says. “The paintings of old seven-inch singles have a narrative and romantic thread. Collecting LPs and singles from an early age, it felt natural to start painting some of these old records as still life.

“Enlarging them to over a metre-square, they become intense, capturing that larger than life feeling; the nostalgia that certain songs and labels can trigger.”

But not all the paintings at Art Jericho are such large format. Some are the size of the original sleeve, and there are a few limited edition screen prints. These prints and works such as Grover’s acrylic on canvas painting of Bob Dylan’s I Threw It All Away (one of the more complex designs) reveal the artist’s meticulous draughtsmanship.

The largest painting is double-sided: Heaven Must Have Sent You by The Elgins, 1966. It is so realistic that, despite its size, you look at it and practically feel you can slide out the disc. “It’s almost tactile,” says Jenny.

Grover, who lives and works in South London, has a gift for realism and paints in acrylic. Many of his paintings (not in this show) summon up Lambeth street scenes, bus stops and buses.

Certainly, no-one at this show will leave without a smile on their face – or humming a tune. All-time favourites, from the O’Jays’ Back Stabbers or Yvonne Fair and her plaintive It Should Have Been Me, to the Supremes, The Four Tops, Aretha Franklin... this feast of art serves out lashings of nostalgia.

Where and when
Martin Grover’s Stand By Me is at Art Jericho until October 18. Gallery closed Monday and Tuesday