In that entry I mentioned the determining influence of my years in 1970s London. A particularly significant event was my first visit in 1974 to the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank. Exhibiting there was artist I hadn’t heard of: Lucian Freud. His quietly powerful, unsettling images were quite unlike anything I had seen before. I didn’t walk out of the gallery feeling my life had been changed in some way, although it had. I can’t even remember the actual day when I realized that I couldn’t get those paintings out of my head. They had captured me by stealth and have held me ever since.
My partner Shane Jones is an even greater admirer of Freud than I am (which is saying something.) Shane is especially drawn to the later more painterly works. It is the earlier works that have been most significant to me. For those who are familiar with my work and Shane’s, this is not exactly surprising. I have carted a reproduction of Girl With a Cat from studio to studio for years. And I cannot look at Interior in Paddington without picturing it where I first saw it: on a wall in the Hayward Gallery.
Interior in Paddington, 1951, oil on canvas,
152 x 114.3 cm, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Freud was 88 when he died (a ‘good innings,' as people used to say) and he was still painting. Selfishly, we are left to ponder on all the works of which we will now be deprived. Not only was Freud in full command of his powers to the end, he also retained the ability to surprise, and occasionally even incite a little controversy. A Lucian Freud solo exhibition was always a major event, and I count myself extremely fortunate to have seen a few.
Lucian Freud is survived by his work. We are his beneficiaries and he has left us a priceless legacy.
Pictured top left: Girl with Kitten, 1947, oil on canvas, 39.5 x 29.5 cm, private collection
To read Freud's obituary and related links in the Guardian click HERE.