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The arts


Left: Sir Joshua Reynolds, Wilson Gale Braddyll, oil on panel


“I live with this painting in our living room and love to look at it. Mr. Braddyll looms out of the darkness with such a particular expression. In a way it’s a quiet painting yet the flourish of brushstrokes on his jacket and cravat, the fall of light on his hair and face, are exciting.”


Right: Julian Opie, Maria Teresa with sequinned dress, acrylic in aluminium frame “These pictures took hours of careful work that felt like knitting. The hair in the portraits that I had drawn before was always the area of most detail so I used this


method to draw all the clothes and the background while the actual body of the model remains fairly simple. This image was both a framed painting on canvas and a film where Maria Teresa’s eyes blink, her earrings sway, the rose petals and dress tassels wave in the breeze and her jewels sparkle.”


“Three hundred years ago the world


was very different but I don’t feel so very far from John Bunyan, Thomas Hardy and Daniel Defoe, who are buried in Bunhill Fields just next to my studio. Artworks from 2000 years ago fill me with awe and excitement. A sense of time travel is involved. For the first time I felt that I could get some real, if maybe dim, sense of a completely other world, the ancient world, the beginning of civilisation. I don’t know what our period is but it’s not the beginning. I bought a small Roman marble statue of Aphrodite


“I don’t have enough walls to hang all the art I have bought”


crouching and set about learning more about the whole period moving from Roman marble statuary and portraiture to terracotta Greek figurines and then on to all things Egyptian. “Looking at other artists’ work gives me


clues in terms of materials, composition, subject matter, colour, in fact everything really, but it also reflects what my interests are, making me feel connected and giving me confidence. When I am working on my recent three-dimensional portraits that need to be painted by hand, I feel some nervousness as to my abilities. Then I look at a late Egyptian plaster head that I own that is still fully painted and I imagine someone 2500 years ago picking up a paintbrush and knowing what he was doing and just doing it.”


ART AS A CONVERSATION “It’s not just a question of referring to Old Masters or learning from them, it can work the other way around too. Making art is in part a conversation


with people about whom I make certain assumptions of sameness. I assume my viewer is living in the same world as I am, that their picture of themselves and their surroundings is built of much the same material as mine, or at least equivalent. What ‘art’ looks like, what we think we are going to see in galleries and museums, what we have already seen, all has great bearing on how one sees new art. “If I make something that looks a bit


like an 18th century painting or reminds the viewer of an information screen in an airport then it’s because I meant it to. This is a juggling act and requires great skill and practice. The ancient Egyptians could paint a stark black eyebrow onto a white face with casual purpose so I believe that I should feel able to do the same. “I don’t have enough walls to hang all of


the things that I have bought. Sometimes I buy something and don’t hang it for ages but this does not seem to matter.


www.mediaclash.co.uk Bath Life 21


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