‘Arno’ is from the same series of paintings as ‘Claude’ (which was selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2015).
These paintings have simple compositions and limited palettes and deal primarily with the notion of solitude. The sparse composition gives no clue as to Arno’s surroundings or circumstance, or to the narrative. For instance, his posture could suggest his arms are bound to his body as if straitjacketed; alternatively his arms could be in his lap. He could be strapped in a dark cell, the only light from a small window or door, or he could be rising early from bed with the sun appearing in the background. He appears happy but again this gives no clue to either premise. In a way, the viewer takes from the painting what they bring to it.
“I initially intended this piece to be a minimal painting of an artist in his studio. However, as I painted I was listening to a radio discussion on poverty. I began thinking of the different way poverty is perceived. The romantic notion of the penniless artist means it’s almost like proof of integrity, compared to the portrayal of the poor as feckless and lazy. I added a teacup to his table, rather than a glass of wine. It could still be an artist in his Parisienne garret, but it could also be a man in a room somewhere in England.”