Getting to know you
From the beginning, long before I started making portraits of Fernando Pessoa, critics have been saying that my work looks as though it has been painted by a number of different artists. Although personally I never find a problem with the concept of working in a diversity of idiom, it is generally expected of artists, by critics and public alike, that they should acquire and develop a singular style, without really deviating from it. So when I discovered Fernando Pessoa, through my friend Zbigniew Kotowicz writing a book about him, I was fascinated to learn the way Pessoa wrote, using his heteronyms. There are two things about this which struck me as significant, firstly the business of becoming a character, like a method actor, who then writes as his new personality dictates. Secondly, how outwardly there’s no change. No matter who he becomes and whichever author he is writing as, Pessoa’s physical appearance, the style of his dress hardly varies; the cut of his suit is always of a man in society, never of an outsider. The few photographs there are of Fernando Pessoa provide little clue to his inner life but they ground the iconography and form the image which remains – reserved, discreet and dapper. At the time this was the modernist way; to dress in strict bourgeois fashion while producing wild and shocking art. Continue reading
Warping on Water, our film about Istanbul is going to Fabrica in Lisbon. I am taking painted stills from the film (dubbed photos) remade specially for show, 31 pictures painted on two continuous rolls of photographic paper, 6 m & 8 m in length.
I shall also be showing my motion-painting films; “A Brush with Manhattan”; “Short Stretch of the Thames”; and “Aldous in Istanbul”
The exhibition opens Wednesday September 4th. and runs until Sept. 28th
Espaço Expositivo da Fábrica Braço de Prata
Was back in Rome in early December, with students for two days and on my own for another three days, drawing. Filled a couple of sketchbooks (one, long and thin, and the other, big and square) as well as a folded-sheet, which turned out quite well. Happy to say, one of the better ones; the way the drawings relate and interconnect across the page. Partly, because I was using different materials to picture the scenes, the rhythm of textures and spaces (between the drawings) happen to weave an interrupted optical pattern over the surface, which together with the changing near-and-far viewpoints, all chance to strike the intriguing visual balance we like the folded sheets to have. Continue reading
My friend, George Noskov, had five of his short plays performed at Teatro Technis in Camden Town, London. I got a call from the director, George Eugeniou, when the plays were already in rehersal, asking if I would be able to put some drawings up as a little exhibition in the theatre foyer. Possibly some portraits of the poet? Invited over to talk about it; I turned up while the actors were in full swing, and being signalled to go over to sit next to the director on the couch in the middle of the room, I watched a run-through of two of the plays. Then, calling a break the director introduced me to the company as an artist…, who’s kindly going to hang some pictures etc etc .., and a very good friend of Noskov who will now tell you all about him. Eh!? That woke me. Continue reading
Went to draw livestock in Bucks. A day of big adventure, for some, in that (not so quiet) spot in the country.
Stepped off the country bus between Reading and High Wycombe deep in rural England. I’d been looking vainly out the window of both the train, between London and Reading, and the bus, as it bounced along the narrow lanes, for herds of cows in the fields. Where do you find one when you want one? They appeared to be as rare as hen’s teeth – but, as the bus drew away, there in front of me, across the road in a farmyard, was a herd of “entires” – young fellers with their tackle intact.
I came to be in that spot because I’d mentioned to Stephanie I was looking for a big, ol’ bull to draw and she had done some detective work. Remembering she had read in a newspaper article a reference to a herd of pedigree cattle. She busied herself, pinpointed its location, found out how to get there and packed me off the first fine day that came along. We had to wait weeks and weeks, the weather’s been so bad recently. Continue reading
At Salon Schmitz for the hanging of the annual exhibition. Many hands make light work, but there were so many at it, Walter Dahn and his teams of helpers, that I simply stood at the side and drew them all working.
Visited Edward Lear’s world for an exhibition at the Poetry Society to mark his 200th birthday. Discovered what an extraordinary life and wide world he travelled and painted.
I had forgotten how closely my street drawings follow his tradition of topographic art, and also, how innocent his nonsense is …,The Bug with a Fiddle
When asked if I’d contribute to the show by my friend, Andrew Baker, who organised the exhibition with his wife, Linda, I began to sketch ideas, until I’d fished out a book of his, with what I quickly and shame-facedly realised was a false memory of his work.Elvislookalikia Contesta
Lear suffered from terrible depressions and, perhaps because of that, there is no hint of darkness in his nonsense. Stephanie bought an Edwardian edition of his Book of Botanical Nonsense to give me for my birthday and I took it with me to Cologne to work from.DJ Sparrow
Cow knitting jumpers with a penguin
Tortoise Traffic Cop and Halting Hare 1
Tortoise Traffic Cop Halting Hare 2
In Rome for a week in April. Took folded sheets and pocket-sized sketchbook. Found myself drawing wide-angled, panoramic scenes on a small scale in the book and close-up, more intimate views on the larger format sheets of paper. Was snapped while working by Maurizio Zorzi from Venice.
An Artists’ Film – Istanbul and the Bosphorus
Is almost ready for screening.
In seven parts, like seven sides of the same coin, or seven facets of a polished gem, this film follows an artist (myself) and film crew (Gilles, Julien and Deniz) for a few days while I wander around Istanbul drawing. Parallel narratives weave a scenario with no plot in the best tradition of the French flaneur, except my observations take on a form. Two, actually; the drawing done at the time and later studio work. In the studio, I take a still from the film and, using stop-motion photography, morph the video image into a painting. When edited these
In Berlin over the weekend to see my friends Mary and Markus Gertkin, Markus was wondering where he could find my motion-painting film of Istanbul – at the site above.
Made a portrait book while I was there (book number 54 in the Portrait Pages series) and some other watercolours and drawings while wandering around in a separate sketch-book.