“Painting our faces”
A selection of portraits by renowned Pop Artist Derek Boshier is on display in the UK for the first time in a new exhibition of the artist’s work which opened at the National Portrait Gallery on Saturday. (September 27th)
Derek Boshier: Imaginary Portraits (27 September 2013 – 4 May 2014) will feature 10 works from the artist’s ‘imaginary portraits’ series, including his oil-on-canvas portrait of David Bowie, which was painted in New York in 1980 while Bowie was rehearsing for his role in Bernard Pomerance’s play The Elephant Man at the city’s Booth Theatre. Based on the life of a nineteenth-century man who developed severe bodily deformities and travelled as a circus performer, the production required Bowie to distort his face and body, holding poses for long periods of time. It was Bowie’s first major theatre role and he received huge critical acclaim for his performance. He talked about the role with Boshier at the artist’s studio, resulting in the striking portrait of Bowie in character.
Bowie fans will be familiar with the name Derek Boshier on account of his work on both the 1979 Lodger album and 1983’s Let's Dance LP. Here’s a bit from DerekBoshier.com regarding his work on both the albums...
David Bowie's "Lodger" album, 1979
"The cover for "Lodger" was a collaboration between David, the photographer Duffy, and myself. I loved this solution to the problem of David being photographed falling. Shooting him from above, on a specially made table built to match the falling form. The table was designed to be completely obscured by David's body (You can see the table in the photograph right centre on the inside of the book-style cover). The wash hand basin was laid underneath the table on the floor." D.B.2003.
The cover for Bowie's subsequent "Let's Dance" album included the projection of a Boshier painting across David Bowie's figure in boxing gloves. The inner sleeve of "Let's Dance" had line drawings by Boshier including his characteristic heads and walking figures.
If you didn’t already see it at the David Bowie is exhibition, check out this page to view Polaroids of three models of sets by Boshier commissioned by Bowie for his stage shows in 1978.