Down the road from the camping site next to the Seine is the Fondation Louis Vuitton. Stopped on the way to Porte Maillot. Here are chauffeurs with their tinted window limousines, waiting. Looked at the art inside before going onto the Velazquez exhibition at the Grand Palais with Chris Najman and Bolan Chen. This Frank Gehry designed building is a high maintenance affair. You can just make out the abseiling widow cleaners.
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. [Read more…]
For six months, between October 2013 and March 2014, my drawings of the poet came out of the box they live in, pressed together, stored away, to get an airing. Which they did, flying in style, thanks to the help ‘n’ advice I got from Flints Theatrical Chandlers. I needed it! They were very patient. I wanted to rig 6 m. high columns of drawings diagonally across the middle of the gallery – to make all the use of the space as I could – without drilling into the ceiling.
It worked out okay. With Eimear and Michael working 18-hour days! It happened. Now it’s come down and the exhibition is a memory I am working on a short, 10 min, film about it. I’m being helped by a host of people, Julien came to Lisbon to film, Andrew showing me, time and again, what to do, Dave looking at the sound, Sara editing every evening after work for weeks…, months – it takes an unbelievably long time, this film-making lark.
It’s beginning to get there, trying to do a couple of things in the production a bit differently, which I hope, in the end, will work, but really it’s the two audiences for the film who are different – either people who have never heard of Fernando Pessoa and, if they have, who know very little about him, or the people for whom he needs no introduction, but are interested to see what this artist has made of the subject. Hope to have it done in the next three to four weeks. Then we’ll see!
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. [Read more…]