Immortalised on canvas: Chris Sullivan’s portrait of the face behind Shapersofthe80s
◼ ONE OF THE BRAVEST things I’ve ever done – apart from disagree with a newspaper editor – was to pose for my portrait, as mine is the kind of family who can’t boast even one ancestor committed to oil on canvas. So when Eighties uber-Wag Chris Sullivan offered to paint me in the style of one of his Latin band Blue Rondo’s wittily cubistic 12-inch record sleeves, I jumped at the chance to look like any of those cool guys on Me And Mr Sanchez in 1981.
So here I am [up top] and the result is strangely hypnotic, if not actually cubistic – “More vorticist than anything else,” says Chris, though we agreed perhaps closer to the audacious David Bomberg’s later work and that suits me down to the ground, a rebel 20th-century style that veers towards abstract and also hints at dynamism. Chris posted the portrait at Facebook and amazing numbers of people said he’d caught the eyes very well, and going by this photo that he took when he handed the canvas over to me last week, I am bound to agree!
The Sullivan style on a Blue Rondo sleeve from 1981, itself a convincing echo of Picasso’s Tres Musicos of 1921
How it came about was through his new book Rebel Rebel which comes out in May (after a gestation lasting about four years!). He invited friends to crowd-fund the project through Unbound Books and when I saw that the prize offered for the topmost pledge was a Rondo-esque portrait, I snapped it up (never forget Sullivan switched from fashion onto the fine-art course while at St Martin’s and turned out a lot of visual material right through the 1990s, quite apart from designing the dreamworld interior of his Wag Club in Soho).
We discussed all this and more when he asked me onto his Soho Radio show last month for nearly an hour and a half. Somewhere between Bowie’s TVC15 and Was Not Was’s Wheel Me Out, I dared to ask whether the approaching deadline for his book being published and finishing this portrait had provided a trigger for his recent return to painting and drawing. We’ve seen a sudden outpouring of witty caricatures of his friends in a mix of paint and pencil and ink flying around on the web. He almost agreed, saying: “It certainly got my chops together, put it that way. . . I’m not trying to be Rothko or Caravaggio, but I’ve always been a big fan of George Grosz and even Picasso did some caricatures.”
My A3-sized portrait is much more fully worked up in acrylic and crayon on canvas than Sullivan’s fun drawings on paper and even though he started chortling sarcastically when I said I’d wanted him to paint me not out of vanity but for love of Rondo, the fact is I’m chuffed to bits to own an image that makes a substantial statement about his talent. It certainly raises an eyebrow when friends come visiting.
JAWING AT SOHO RADIO ON THE CLUBLAND REVOLUTION (@30mins) AND ART (@55 MINS)
Chris Sullivan: spinning the discs on his show Sullivan’s Suits at Soho Radio while interviewing me on January 30. (Photo by Shapersofthe80s)
➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Sullivan the wag changes hats at the touch of his paintbrush
Posted in art, books, caricature, graphics, interviews, online radio, Pop music
Tagged Blue Rondo a la Turk, Chris Sullivan, Me and Mr Sanchez, portrait, Rebel Rebel, Soho Radio, Sullivan’s Suits, Wag club
David Hockney at work on his iPad portrait of Stephen Hawking, showing from today at London’s Science Museum. Photograph © Judith Croasdell
Britain’s best-known painter meets the world’s best-known scientist. The outcome is a dazzlingly intimate birthday portrait of the wheelchair- bound Prof Stephen Hawking, captured in February at his office in Cambridge looking serene and fascinating with strangely luminous violet eyes. Today’s Science Museum blog reports:
“ IMAGINE BEING ABLE TO SEE the British artist David Hockney create a new work, stroke by stroke, before your very eyes. Now imagine this work is a portrait, providing an insight into the way Hockney composes his famous likenesses. Even better, the subject is none other than the distinguished Cambridge University cosmologist, Stephen Hawking.
For the next three weeks the Science Museum will display an animated version of Hockney’s portrait, running on the artist’s own iPad for more than three minutes and showing exactly how it was created. Visitors can see how his skill has evolved since he was first introduced to the Apple iPhone in late 2008 and then the iPad. Hockney draws with an app called Brushes which removes the need to cart around supplies, easel and palette… It is exhibited alongside a rarely seen Hockney line-drawing, dating from 1978, owned by Hawking’s first wife, Jane… ” / continued online
➢ Stephen Hawking: A 70th birthday celebration display at London’s Science Museum until April 9 … The book that made a celebrity of cosmologist Hawking in 1988, A Brief History of Time, broke records by staying on the Sunday Times best-sellers list for 237 weeks.
➢ More on Hockney at Shapersofthe80s: 1983’s landmark interview when he revealed “Suddenly I see cubism differently, more clearly”. Plus more of his iPad art
Ubermensch 1995, by Jake and Dinos Chapman: Hawking as Fiberglass “Superman”
➢ Thin line between art and hate: is this the most repellent work of modern art? “The Chapman brothers’ sneering sculpture of Stephen Hawking sickened me in 1995, and still does now. What do you think is the most hateful work of modern art?” — Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones writing in January … and Jones again today: “Hockney’s portraits of Hawking are important documents of what really mattered in the culture of our time. Like Epstein’s Einstein, they will still be looked at when much art that makes headlines is utterly forgotten.”
➢ Professor Stephen Hawking has filmed a cameo for TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory, due to be aired next month in the US (May in the UK) — BBC News reports: “ The famous physicist will appear in a scene with socially awkward scientist Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons. He previously recorded voice-overs for animations The Simpsons and Futurama. Last year, he fronted his own TV series Brave New World for Channel 4, which looked at new developments in science and how they might benefit mankind ”… / continued online
Posted in art, Culture, London, Media, science, Technology
Tagged Big Bang Theory, Brushes, David Hockney, Dinos Chapman, exhibitions, iPad, Jake and Dinos Chapman, portrait, Science Museum, Stephen Hawking