This was painted not long after I returned from a trip to London to see the Lucien Freud retrospective exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
I kind of have the smug satisfaction of having discovered LF many years ago before he got so famous and immediately realized he was one of the
greatest portrait painters of all time. And curiously enough, my first two encounters were in the flesh so to speak i.e. seeing the real painting in an
exhibition rather than in a book. The first encounter was very early on in my painting career, probably about 1974 or 75 shortly after I had arrived in NZ.
The local Govett Brewster was hosting a touring exhibition of British artists and there was one painting that really resonated with me. That painting
was Girl With Roses, an early Freud portrait painted in a rather linear germanic style. I remembered the name because of the association to the famous
psychologist Sigmund Freud and wondered if he may be related (in fact he is the grandson). Several years later I saw another touring exhibition in
Auckland, the Baron Von Thyssen collection of modern art. In those days NZ was still very isolated, culturally as well as physically and I was hungry to
see actual paintings I had hitherto only seen in grainy illustrations. So I made a special effort to travel to Auckland to see this show sometime in the
early 1980's. Again there was one particular painting that really impressed me and it was called Last Portrait by Lucien Freud. But it was totally
different in style to the other one I had seen and I found it hard to believe it was the same artist! Not long afterwards I discovered a book on LF
and both those paintings were reproduced.|
When I learned of the big exhibition in London I knew I had to go. And it was a very big exhibition. I spent eight hours looking the first day and then
went back for another day. I learned a lot. And it was something of a release for me. Being such a strong influence on my own painting I always was
concerned of the pitfalls of becoming just another poor man's version of Freud. But on studying the paintings I realized that his style and methodology
is quite different to mine. My own painting has found its own voice, albeit a quieter more humble one.