Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Dorian Grey

The painter Tim Weir has been taking my picture as studies for a future portrait. It's done in half-light against the white wall of his living room. His flat mate sits in the corner playing some species of war game, the controls resting on his belly, terrified screams and helicopter rotor blades accompanying the action while he stares impassively at the screen.

I try and look natural. An impossible task at the best of times, I am an unnatural creature, but I'm aware that a 1982 catalogue pose is not what Tim's after, so I'm giving it a go. Tim combines the feeling of later Rembrandts with the chiaroscuro and lighting techniques of Caravaggio and the antebellum ruthlessness of a Bacon or Freud. My Nick Rhodes cheek-bone pimping isn't going to cut much ice with him.

So I attempt to look natural. And I'm not looking bad today - my freckles are out, my glasses are off and I won't be smiling. I look into the mirror before I go out - good eyes, nice skin, the hair, a punkified quiff in what I'm assured is a very fashionable platinum-grey colour. It looks raffish; out of the right side of the bed, for once. I begin to think of that self portrait of Durer that has been fascinating and exciting women for five hundred years. Move over Albrecht there's a new guy in town. And he doesn't look like the singer from Nickleback!

I relax into it as Tim snaps away, staring down the baleful eye of the camera's lens. The posing muscles kick back into gear and I strike a series of poses, all Egon Schiele angles and Francis Bacon screams. That gets me through the initial embarrassment and I start to pose seriously, imagining where the light is falling across my face, what kinds of shadows will be collecting, what will be picked out; how's the philtrum looking? I stare sullenly, aggressively, haughtily, I look away from the camera, down to the ground or up in the air like a medieval pieta.

Eventually Tim thinks he has enough and we stop. He asks me if I want to see the photos and I hesitate. In my mind I'm really expressing; my eyes are soul-mirrors communicating my sadness, limpid lasers boring a hole into the world's canvas and filling it with the wretched misery that holds my heart.

I don't get that. It's a gurning contest with the horse-collar missing. It's an Edweard Muybridge flick-book of a Bedlam unfortunate. It's a man in an electric chair. It's Morrissey live on stage, hit in the head with a pint pot of piss. Durer need not concern himself.

Should be a fantastic painting though.

P.S. I've tried to post a link to Tim's website four or five times but Blogshite, as usual, isn't having it. If you would like to see some of Tim's work, and I would recommend you would, stick the following: into your browser and have a good poke round.


  1. Surely Kelly's passion for America's Top Model must have helped as research? Did you have Tyra Banks' 'Angles' mantra in your head throughout? x

  2. I'm afraid I missed out on tyra's methodology. but now I have Robbie William's angels in my head. so thanks for that.