This painting takes its title and partial inspiration from Neil Young's song 'Driftin' Back' ('Psychedelic Pill' album, 2012). An excerpt from the exhibition catalogue gives the background to this major...
This painting takes its title and partial inspiration from Neil Young's song 'Driftin' Back' ('Psychedelic Pill' album, 2012). An excerpt from the exhibition catalogue gives the background to this major work:
Chris Gollon painted relatively few self-portraits; but in 2013, as he turned 60, he painted a whole series on both paper and canvas. To do this, he decided to take another look at Expressionism, the subject of which is the Self, or oneself. All Expressionist art is subjective, in which is shown the inner self of the artist. Gollon’s self portraits are not a photographic likeness, but simply Gollon working with himself, his own ego and a mirror. This is not an exercise in vanity either; but along with artists of varying styles such as Max Beckmann and Rembrandt, it is an interest in and an attempt to see one’s own self or soul. As Sister Wendy Beckett notes in her book 'Beckmann and The Self', when great artists do penetrate to see their souls, it helps us see our own.
The following year, having painted 'And It Came to Pass and The Last Pianist (I)', he continued his interest in the predella* format in the 5-panel, 10ft (3m) long painting Driftin’ Back’ (after Neil Young). It is partially inspired by three things: 1) the Neil Young song of the same title (on his Psychedelic Pill album, 2012); 2) the famous dinner at Paris's Hotel Majestic in 1922—the only time the artistic egos of Proust, Picasso, Joyce and Stravinsky were at table together (with very mixed results); and 3) Gollon's own fascination with the history of self-portraiture from Dürer to today. Instead of contemporaries being at a dinner table, Gollon has given us the impossible: in one dining room, the gathering of some of the greatest self-portraitists of the last five centuries. From left to right: Dürer, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Beckmann. Perhaps hoping to eavesdrop conversations—which, as with the Hotel Majestic dinner, do not seem to abound—Chris Gollon has placed himself at the end. The first four panels are painted in oil on canvas, but for the last Gollon uses his preferred medium of acrylic. Gollon made six studies on paper for this extraordinary work, including Gollonesque paintings of self-portraits by Picasso and other of the artist's favourite painters.
“Unlike the studies I made for this work, this predella 'Driftin' Back' is completely different, since it is not pastiche. It is up to the viewer to agree, disagree, or go somewhere else with it, or reject it as unimportant twaddle. It could just be a trip down Memory Lane, but involving memories we don't have.” Chris Gollon
*predella (prĕdĕl ́ lä), Italian term for a painted panel, usually small, belonging to a series of panels at the bottom of an altarpiece and was used mainly in Italy from the 13th to the16th century. Predella panels generally consist of narrative scenes against a continuous background. It gave the artist an opportunity to express himself with more inventiveness and vivacity in these episodes than in the main altar panel, where the image was conventionalised to a greater extent.
Courtesy IAP Fine Art and Chris Gollon estate. First shown at IAP Fine Art, London. Loaned from the artist's estate to the 2019-2020 museum retrospective of Chris Gollon's music-related works 'CHRIS GOLLON: Beyond the Horizon', at the Huddersfield Art Gallery.
2019-2020 museum retrospective of Chris Gollon's music-related works 'CHRIS GOLLON: Beyond the Horizon', at the Huddersfield Art Gallery
CHRIS GOLLON: Beyond the Horizon. Published 2019 by IAP Fine Art, in association with Huddersfield Art Gallery & Kirklees Council, Ed. Tregunna, David. ISBN 978-0-9530584-3-3