Portrait of serial worldwide cratedigger Gilles Peterson.
Ben Brophy and Mialy Rama commissioned this portrait (the first in my series of DJ portraits) so that it would be ready to present to Gilles Peterson (together with a portrait of Kerri Chandler which was presented to Kerri).
These are unlike most of my other works in that they are photographically derived. i.e. the painting/drawing was made from an already-existing photograph, rather than being ‘witnessed’ and drawn at first hand as my ‘live’ clubs capes are. However, in the selection and use of the chosen colours and materials, and the change of scale, the image undergoes a visual and tonal transformation.
When I use photographs in my work there is always a question at the forefront of my mind….’Why am I doing this, when there is already a really good photo in existence. It has to be more reason than simply “copying” an existing image or “reproducing” it.
Just copying a photo is pointless, boring and inauthentic, regardless of whether or not people ‘like’ the result. The transformation in my painted version is the use of monochrome tonal values over a deep blue background, and using this excessively “unrealistic” colour and tone to build an atmosphere that is almost mystical in mood, and emphasising the spiritual/emotional aspects of club music and club events.
With this portrait of Gilles, it was much easier to transform the original photo in my own composition than with the Kerri portrait, because the photo Gilles gave us was not as good, as active or as atmospheric as the photo that Kerri gave us.
The photo included a rather nice, and very well shot “mugshot” of Gilles, but he is just standing in front of a plain grey brick wall, as though he has just been released from prison or something.
Something a little more than a “remix” was needed here in order to bring depth, dynamism and meaning to the artwork. So I dumped the Cell Block H brick wall from the original photo, instead substituting it with a remembered ‘Vision’ of Gilles’ wonderful and long-running “This” club event that was packed-out every Monday night at Bar Rhumba on Shaftsbury Avenue in Soho for at least 10 years before it closed in 2006.
My ’This’ ‘Vision’ was informed by 4 or 5 live drawings I had made onsite at Bar Rhumba during 2003-2006.