Dear Jacopo, (2006-19)

Dear Jacopo

I am writing with good news. I have finally completed the paintings after your extraordinary installation in the Scuola Grande Di San Rocco. I say finished. I could probably work on them forever, work alongside YOU forever, but I’d only be fussing now, adding detail and sharpening edges for the sake of it rather than making any qualitative difference or improvement to this particular suite of paintings.

I first saw your paintings on an art trip to Venice in 2006 and it’s a miracle my re-enactments of your work have survived the distance. There have been numerous occasions over the past 12 years where their relegation to the recycling bin has been a near certainty. I’m grateful however, that I resisted that unproductive tendency of mine to erase or destroy work that doesn’t meet my immediate demands or expectations. I’m glad that instead, I hid the boards away until my eyes had cleared and I could see past the mishandled palette and amateur brushwork and befriend them once more.

I’ve experimented with these images a lot over the years, with the composition, the colour scheme, the scale and the supporting surface. However, it was these miniature distillations that ultimately held my attention the longest. If I’m honest, I’d imagined that the transformation between your paintings and mine would have been greater than how it’s turned out and I feel somewhat apologetic about the fact that there are so many similarities. I’ve lived in a constant state of doubt about it actually. Alas, every time I tried to create more distance between your work and mine, assert my own style and be more inventive with my interpretation, I lost the connection with your work and the sensibility that I was after. I didn’t set out to copy your works. My intention, rather, was to take possession of the forces and feelings within your paintings and to grasp, via the act of repetition, this multidimensional universe of yours, formed of ribbons, strips, wheels and turbines; an absurd and unpredictable world in which anything can happen.[1]

I guess the most obvious distinction between your works and mine is their scale. I mean all of my paintings put together would fill about 1/2 of just one of your paintings! That in itself changes quite a lot for the viewer in terms of paint quality, focus and perspective doesn’t it? And this, in turn, alters the way in which the works are experienced? We are also separated by 500 years of art and thought and that must have an impact on the perceptual field or territory in which our works are seen, compared and analysed.  Is this enough of a difference to appease my doubts? I’m not sure. All I know for certain is that there didn’t seem to be any other way to paint these works. The public, no doubt, will have their own opinions and will draw their own conclusions.

Alas, it’s time to go Jacopo. I need to get on and make more work, put your lessons to good use and turn my gaze to other motifs and answer, as best I can, their calling to find a painted equivalence. I’ll keep you posted but until then, thanks again. I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate the way you’ve stood by me and watched over me all this time. Maybe I’ll be able to return the favour one day. I’d love that opportunity.

Sincerely, and with the greatest admiration,


[1] These beautifully articulated descriptions of your works are paraphrased from three mutual friends of ours, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (What is Philosophy; Verso, London; p.182) and Jean Paul Sartre (Essays in Existentialism; Carol Publishing Group, NJ, 1999; p.384)

List of works in order of appearance.

Dear Jacopo, Agony in the Garden, oil on board, 19.5 x15cm

Dear Jacopo, Annunciation, oil on board, 15.5 x 19cm

Dear Jacopo, Assumption of the Virgin Mary, oil on board, 15 x 21cm

Dear Jacopo, Circumcision, 15 x 21cm

Dear Jacopo, Flight into Egypt, oil on board 15 x 21cm

Dear Jacopo, Last Supper, oil on board, 18 x 15cm

Dear Jacopo, Miracle of Manna, oil on board 15 x 17cm

Dear Jacopo, Moses Drawing Water From the Rock, oil on board, 17.5 x 15cm

Dear Jacopo, Probation Pool, oil on board, 17 x 15cm

Dear Jacopo, Resurrection of Christ, oil on board, 18 x 15.2cm

Dear Jacopo, Slaughter of the Innocents, oil on board, 15.5 x 21cm

Dear Jacopo, The Baptism, oil on board, 19 x 15cm

Dear Jacopo, The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, oil on board, 18 x 15cm

Dear Jacopo, The Resurrection of Lazarus, oil on board, 21 x 15cm

Dear Jacopo, Adoration of the Birth, oil on board, 17 x 15.2cm

Dear Jacopo, Adoration of the Magi, oil on board, 15 x 21cm,

Dear Jacopo, The Temptation and Ascension of Christ, oil on board, diptych, 21.5 x 27.5cm

Dear Jacopo, Crucifixion, oil on board, 24 x 42cm

Dear Jacopo, Installation View

Dear Jacopo, Installation View

Dear Jacopo, Installation View

Dear Jacopo, Installation View

Dear Jacopo, Installation View

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