Portraits of David Bowie
Thin White Duke
2016, oil paint, acrylic ink and paint, and oil stick on canvas
26″ x 60″
London to Berlin
2016, pigment ink, acrylic paint, pastel and oil stick on canvas
32″ x 26″
A Tribute to David Bowie
These two portraits are dedicated to the memory of David Bowie, a great artist of life as well as a great musician. They will be exhibited in a group show at the Smash Gallery titled A Tribute to David Bowie, June 4 – July 2. If you’re in San Francisco while the show is up, please visit during the show hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 12pm – 5pm. The gallery address is 210 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, cross street is Leavenworth Street. Click here for a map.
About Thin White Duke
Thin White Duke is based on Bowie’s character of the same name, that he adopted around 1976. There was a beautiful and elegant simplicity in the black and white understated yet stylish clothing of this character: plain white shirt, baggy black trousers, and a black waistcoat. At the same time his music of that era, such as the iconic song Golden Years on the Station to Station album, has such colorful and complex energy. It was this dichotomy that I wanted to express in the contrast between the more colorful and complex oil paint background and the simple predominantly black ink depiction of his character.
About London to Berlin
London to Berlin started with the building up a multi-layered, multi-textured digital collage background using Corel Painter 2016 painting software, the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium pen tablet and an iMac. The background collage includes a 1973 Ziggy Stardust poster advertising a Bowie concert in the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, North London, part of his The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars tour (see this funny Youtube video of fans queuing up outside the theatre on that tour). The Rainbow Theatre is very close to where I grew up in North London in the 1970s. The music of David Bowie, Marc Bolan, and others formed the soundtrack of my youth…
The background also includes a torn-poster wall I photographed in Amsterdam and a graffitied section of the Berlin Wall before it came down in 1989 – both symbolic of Bowie’s time in Berlin with Brian Eno when he recorded the albums “Low” and “Heroes” at the Hansa Tonstudio (“Hansa by the Wall”). Thus the underlying imagery of this artwork embodies the title London to Berlin.
The portrait of Bowie in London to Berlin is loosely based on a combination of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character from the early 1970s, and from when he performed the song Heroes on Dutch TV in 1977 on a program called “Top Pop”, which looks like a copy of the British “Top of the Pops”, which I watched every week as a teenager.
After completing the digital portion of the painting I printed the background on Breathing Color Lyve Canvas using an Epson 9600 wide format inkjet printer with UltraChrome Pigment Inks and then continued working on the artwork with acrylic gels, inks and paints, plus pastels and oil sticks.
What Bowie Means to Me
The music of David Bowie was part of the sound tapestry that formed the soundtrack of my youth growing up in North London, going to see punk bands playing at the Marquee Club on Wardour Street in Soho, seeing legendary rock bands like Led Zeppelin and The Who, while also dancing to ’50s Rock ‘n’Roll which was (and is) very popular in the UK. I remember the excitement of late 1970s London – a sense of “anything is possible”! Bowie captured that sense. His ever-changing personas and characters, and his eclectic and evolving musical and fashion styles, reflected a sense of timeless freedom and a spirit of originality that still echoes to this day. It is this spirit that moved me, and that I resonated with, as I created the two paintings shown here.
Photos from the Opening Reception on June 4th, 2016