“Le Désespéré” by Gustave Courbet
You know when bad things seem to conspire to bring misery upon your life like a western government spreading peace and democracy upon the Middle East? Well lately a lot of shite seems to have come my way, but with the help of a loving family and gloriously fine artist friends, the cloud actually DOES seem to have a silver lining. There have been various trade union related crises at the hospital, and more than a Texan restaurant’s serving of hassle has been served up on my plate. This has been a major factor in me not producing any work lately and on top of this I’ve received a ludicrous demand from the Inland Revenue that should be considered a worthy Booker Prize nominee (best work of fiction, retrospective 2004). So it’s safe to say that generally I’ve felt pretty shitty lately.
I took some time out to visit the Rebels and Martyrs show at the National with my sixteen year old son Luke (who also has a healthy interest in art and a natural talent to music). It was probably the most enjoyable day I’ve ever spent with him and I suppose it would be an equivalent to a footballing father and son going to see a big game. The show was wonderful and it has forced me to look more carefully at the work of Gustave Courbet who has definitely become my latest ‘cause-celebre’. There was a self-portrait that if executed today could be considered self-indulgently staged. All wide-eyed and tormented hands grasping the head as he stares at the viewer. Pure artifice (which after all is exactly what art should be) but beautifully painted; unfortunately it resides in a private collection and I can’t find it online so if you didn’t catch it this time I don’t hold out much hope in the future. Expect future blog posts celebrating this painter.
After this we ambled around Cork Street galleries for an hour or so and then Luke took me to Camden market. With a bit of food and a couple of drinks to finish the day it turned out to be something we both agreed should be repeated. Back to home and Colleen and I have decided that we really should pull our fingers out and finally get married (she’s had me on approval now for twelve years). And now that my parents have declared they want to move to France as well, it seems that this dream too is about to become a reality inside perhaps a year. All being well we’ll set up some kind of artist/writer retreat (sounds great doesn’t it? I think it’s basically a posh B&B!) where perhaps I might do some private tuition too.
I received an unexpected call from Juno Doran who was passing Bristol on her way to a weekend away in Devon and she wanted to pop in to say hello, which she did. Her husband Paul came too, they treated us to a fantastic meal which they made here, we stayed up until stupid o’clock drinking good wine, talking art, religion and philosophy bollocks and introducing each other to our personal musical tastes. What a way to live eh?
Others have said it frequently, but for some reason (perhaps it was the way it was justified philosophically) Juno made it hit home. I realised that I should be painting full-time. I shouldn’t be staring at a bloody computer screen all day building NHS websites and then spending evenings and weekends fitting in my painting. I should be staring at canvas and breathing in the smell of turpentine 24/7. I’m forty one this year, how long have we got on this bloody planet? I need to sort my life out and start doing what I was put here for. Cheers Juno, cheers Colleen, cheers Luke, Mum and Dad – you’re all stars.