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…]
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. [Read more…]
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…]
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. [Read more…]