Monday, 24 November 2014


What qualifications do you need to be an artist, a clairvoyant, a writer, public relations, musician?. Do you need a degree?
There are many talents but one where you notice immediately if someone is not up to standard is classical music. I think it was Ravel who believed that nobody should play any instrument unless they were of a good standard. Thank goodness in everything this does not apply.
Contemporary art today has to be made well if it is to last and this week I went to two exhibitions one  of Tim Noble's first solo show at the Hidden Door, of the Society Club in Soho, and one of James Franco's at The Siegfried Showroom. It is hard to really see work objectively when you like someone, and these two people I like very much. I will therefore try to see them with someone else's eyes.  Of course the honest yet most dishonest and ghastly way to look at an art market, is,what is a person willing to pay for object X, when somebody is a film star or a brilliant artist within a duo as in the case of Tim Noble? In any case I won't answer this, others will, because I know nothing.
Back to the shows themselves.
Tim Nobles show was intricate with delicate, black ink drawings, my favourite on the back of a Coutts Bank Letter that had turned him down. I loved the cartoon outside the gallery "Behind every famous man is a woman, and behind her is his wife" Groucho Marx. On the other side of the gallery was a mannequin of his partner, Sue Webster, with her clothes on, and a bag over her head. The sound of the typewriter being used, so obviously she was always working. Twelve years ago I met them both when I did the book "British Artists at Work", published  by Assouline and without Tim and Sue's encouragement, address book, knowledge, it would have not been complete. This fun and exuberant couple have split and this was Tim's token to their once strong love story? The show left me wondering. I know they still work together, but this was his poetry alone? I did the same thing when I made my film The gun the cake and the butterfly. The drawings tell unfinished stories. Be careful when you arrive at the Hidden Door of the Society Club, the new gallery and book shop, as it has flexible hours so call beforehand. Some people use a therapist when things go wrong. Tim uses an ultra fine black pen to vent his sorrows?. Well worth visiting. This show had an egalitarian feel to it, that one piece of art could go for hundreds of thousand of pounds when you work together with partners, yet another piece is affordable if you change the structure of your team work.Time changes but I personally missed Sue, her feisty character, or perhaps I missed Tim. I like to look at their work when they are both in the room. They gave me an incredible present for my 50th Birthday, a plastic bottle of Fairy Liquid with sweet nothings on it.
As one of the most famous British Artists I am sure that Blain Southern will see they all sell well.

pen and ink drawing by Tim Noble

James Franco's show at Andreas Siegfried's hidden haven is worth seeing too. One of first times I met Andreas, he was working at Christian Louboutin, and a shoplifter came in and he locked the door and called the police. The girl promptly put her hands through the window, blood went everywhere. It was an artwork in itself. I was trying on shoes whilst the girl was swearing and running through the shop like a lunatic. No wonder Andreas loves art. A whole lot more fabulous than stopping people trying to steal.
Back to James 
To see the development of a human being. To see that stars in Hollywood may also like to paint too and read poetry. I met James Franco at the Venice Film Festival several years ago, Liberatum and I sponsored his first night. It was a shared exhibition on an Island dedicated to art, yet it was in the film festival.
Happy Days by James Franco.

The paintings have a childish quality and made me happy, some obsessed by the attractiveness of being fat, a fat horse, a fat corgi. They looked like the cartoons in Ladybird books when I first started to read. I loved a painting called Happy Days, a butterfly of course, a nude woman with an incredible figure and a zebra head to disguise who she really is, yet telling you everything. It is obvious that James loves to multi task and with a hit and miss style he is fascinating to watch. Despite his awards in Hollywood, he clearly wants to stretch his life, he loves success and is not afraid of failure. Perhap the ultimate vanity of Hollywood drives him? After all unless you are Shakespeare, Marilyn Monroe or Mozart you are forgotten fifteen minutes after you are dead?.  He is driven and just loves doing whatever he wants to do. Whether it is valid time will tell, I personally think if you can draw, you can probably paint, and you may be able to write too. However if you specialise you could become a true genius, or not? So why not try everything? Much more fun.

Back to original question what qualifications do we need in life? We need to fuel our energy and imagination and doing is the best answer.
To be any of the  above you really need the time to work, the enthusiasm and dedication to carry on.
Perhaps Illy's and Liberatum's small film on what inspires artists says it all?

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