We have included this painting in 'Emergence & Transformation', since as we emerge from lockdown many of us want to return to look and feel as we did before, and to take a trip to the hairdresser or barber, buy some summer clothes perhaps, and prepare ourselves to meet others again in social situations. This painting by Chris Gollon also features a celebratory still life with two champagne glasses, hinting at our emergence into a new social situation. The female figure is also looking at herself in the mirror, so this painting is carefully juxtaposed here with 'Quadrant No. 6' by Possible Mirror.
Originally, this painting takes its title and partial inspiration from Eleanor McEvoy's song on her NAKED MUSIC album. The song was in turn inspired by Eleanor's personal experience of a big record label in USA, which tried to mould her image into something she was not. Chris Gollon was a very sensitive painter of women and painted two images in response to this song, the first is reproduced in the NAKED MUSIC Songbook, the second is here and reproduced in the exhibition catalogue 'CHRIS GOLLON: Beyond the Horizon'. There are two glasses of champagne between the spectator and the mirror in which we see the female figure, hinting that she is not alone as she looks into the mirror.
The artistic collaboration began after Eleanor McEvoy bought a painting by Chris Gollon entitled 'Champagne Sheila', a middle-aged female nude, pouring one too many glasses of champagne. It led her to the concept of her next album, NAKED MUSIC (pictured with this work), for which she tentatively asked Chris Gollon to paint an image for the cover. However, Gollon was so taken with the music and how the lyrics allowed him, as a man, into areas of feminine thought and desire, he produced a series of 24 paintings, four of which were used on the album sleeve. In January 2016, a NAKED MUSIC exhibition was held in central London, curated by IAP Fine Art at Gallery Different, at which Eleanor McEvoy performed and launched the album. Later the same year, 'NAKED MUSIC The Songbook' was published (Hot Press Books, Dublin), which included the songs and the paintings, as well as interviews with Gollon and McEvoy about their collaboration.
“For this NAKED MUSIC marriage of Eleanor McEvoy’s music and Chris Gollon’s paintings [...] they have each worked individually, while also accepting the risk and challenge of incompatibility. At first glance, Gollon’s startling and provocative figures may seem to have little in common with McEvoy’s classically sculpted tunes and lyrics, but there’s a defiant edge to her work that encourages it to lean out over the parapet and embrace Gollon’s almost anti-classical approach. [...] just as Gollon’s images have been praised for their “stark visual simplicity and the absence of background detail”, so McEvoy’s performances on the fourteen songs on NAKED MUSIC are pared back to their most naked forms, bearing only the most essential elements. So an apparent incompatibility becomes part of what links these two fine artists together, and the juxtaposition of their work in NAKED MUSIC encourages the fan to look again and listen one more time." Excerpt from 'NAKED MUSIC: The Risk and Challenge of Incompatibility', an essay by music journalist and author Jackie Hayden, in 'NAKED MUSIC: The Songbook', published by Hot Press Books, Dublin (2016).
Courtesy of IAP Fine Art and artist's estate. First shown in 'NAKED MUSIC' exhibition and album launch at Gallery Different, London, curated by IAP Fine Art. Loaned to the 2019-2020 museum retrospective of Chris Gollon's music-related works 'CHRIS GOLLON: Beyond the Horizon', at the Huddersfield Art Gallery.
2016, NAKED MUSIC, London 2019-2020 museum retrospective of Chris Gollon's music-related works 'CHRIS GOLLON: Beyond the Horizon', at the Huddersfield Art Gallery Emergence & Transformation, on-line exhibition, IAP Fine Art (2020)
NAKED MUSIC: The Songbook (Hot Press Books, Dublin, 2016) ISBN: 978-0-9576114-2-9 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