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lolwarlol

The Painter and the Painting.

The way I have been carrying on you would imagine I have known the lady, Layla,  in question for many years, you would imagine that we are the deepest of friends. Sadly neither statement is really true. I hope we are friends, I think we might be. In the very short time I have known her, the occasions I have met her could be counted on one easel. Even so, I feel as though i have seen quite a dramatic and positive change in her.

The very last time I met her was tonight at the National Portrait Gallery to view the picture she has hanging in there in the 2011 BP Portrait Award Exhibition. To give you some idea of how unacquainted we are, I was to meet The Mrs and a work colleague of hers who are both friends of Layla's in the proper sense of the word, at the Pret opposite the NPG. It was only when The Mrs turned up we realised I had been sat right in front of her for sometime. We finally recognised each other and carried out the greetings. Instantly I could see a real change in her. A good change.



The very first time I met her was in Kingston. The Mrs is a friend of hers and Layla was working in a barbers. I needed a hair cut, The Mrs needed to hook up with her friend, this was two birds one stone stuff. My first impression of Layla was that she was a David Bowie fan, I don't actually know if she is. She looked incredibly like him. I hope she doesn't mind me saying that, it is meant as nothing less than a compliment. I liked her immediately because of the way she looked, she looked sharp, stark and striking. She has some incredibly striking tattoos on her arms and these were proudly displayed. Her hair was short, coloured. She looked a bit edgy, subversive, possibly like she'd also had too much coffee. These are qualities I like in a person.

I hate getting my hair cut. I hate sitting in front of that mirror, I hate being the centre of that very focussed attention. Although good at it, I hate that small talk that people do, when I say people, I mean the hair cutter and the person in the chair. Its all to close for me. I was to be saved this personal hell this time as the person doing the cutting was engaged in conversation with someone else, The Mrs. This meant that I was also allowed to listen. The thing I noticed about the 'then' Layla' was her body movements. No, I wasn't being a pervert, but it was as though on each part of her body a hanger had been left in her clothing. From the shoulder to the elbow was one, from the elbow to the wrist another. The same with her legs, a bit like one of those wooden body things that artists use. You know the things, about a foot high and all the limbs have moveable sections. It appeared that either she held herself in as tight to her bone frame as possible or that it was the pressure of the air, the world around her that compressed her body, compressing her movements.Naturally, despite my hatred of such situations, I barged my way into the conversation a few times.  That haircut was done. Promises were made to all meet up outside of the barbers to 'go for a meal or something', as is nearly always the case in these matters we didn't.

Sometime after that, as I often put haircuts off for as long as possible, I think we may have gone back to the barbers for another haircut. We were all much the same. Both the Mrs and Layla had exciting news of work and prospects. I think perhaps this was the first mention of the painting that we saw tonight. It was either confirmed or 'In the post'.  During this time I believe that Layla was facing a change of address and possibly change of objectives. She was talking about stopping cutting hair to concentrate on painting. She'd also made mention of a certain special someone that seemed to bring a smile to her lips and a good glint in her eyes.

Certainly that was my last contact with Layla. I know the Mrs has kept in touch since but i understand that contact to be quite small, text or emails exchanged.  Swapping updates and well wishes.

I believe tonight to be the first face to face since my last haircut. Its no wonder I didn't recognise her. Her hair has grown out but more importantly she is flowing freely. She is loose. She was with her partner (the one mentioned earlier) and this partnership is working very well for both parties. They compliment each other perfectly. They're clearly happy, made for each other and enjoying the journey they find themselves on. They appear to be happily drifting down the stream allowing things to float their way.

We move from the Pret over to the NPG. This historic building in historic London is swarming with people and we stroll in with one of the artists of whose work they have come to see. Make no bones about it, if it had been my work hanging up in there, there would not have been a soul in a five mile radius that would have been in any doubt of the fact that it was ME and I had done THAT picture. Not Layla. Almost maddeningly modest she slid in and guided us to the picture she has made. At one point we all laughed and her laugh was like the one of someone who had managed to get, undetected, something she'd just knocked up at home just half an hour ago, up on the wall. She is proud of her achievement, don't get me wrong, but this has not altered an ounce of her humility. Maybe she is still in shock, but I'm not certain. I think she's just riding this wave like a limber branch on top of the water. I'm in awe of her for this. My own sense of importance would have me strolling around like a complete prick. Lets not forget, she didn't actually enter the painting herself, a friend did it online. She told us a great story of her carting the painting around in an old duvet cover and being happy it was going to the gallery in the first place to just get it out of the house.

Onto the painting.

The picture below really does it no justice. What set it apart from the others in the exhibition is its entire style. Some of the portraits look like photographs. Some look like they were painted by Michelangelo falt on his back for a year. Some look like they were painted by students just taking the piss a bit. What sets Layla's work a world apart is its mix of styles. It is an exact abstract. The pose of the model, George O'Dowd no less, is real. The sharp edges on the chair are crisp. The floor is real. It looks utterly real and I have seen many at that angle. Where it goes abstract is in the colouring, parts appear to be blurred. Every 'real' part of the painting is balanced with a not so real part. Other parts are also staggering. The fray at the bottom of his trouser leg. In real life, in that painting it is detail like that that staggers. Because of these things you can easily miss so much more. For example, on his leg George is depicted exactly as he was in the photo she worked from,  wearing the tag he was forced to wear by the courts after his latest adventure with the law. You could easily miss the penis arm of the chair. Of course I'm  biassed, of course i wasn't going to see something i thought better, but it really is extraordinary. I did see others there i liked but nothing had the mix and excitement that Layla's piece has.




Just standing in front of this, in the exhibition with the artist that produced it gave me a massive buzz. As we stood there lots of people walked up and looked at it. I wanted to tell them, "She's here! Look! This woman here made that!". How Layla contains herself I have no idea.

After the gallery The Mrs and I went for a meal with the charming pair. We have commissioned her to do a painting of our goldfish Reg. Trying to get a price for the job out her was a 20 minute deal. She is almost embarrassed to talk about money for her work, as though it is not worth it, she's in the NPG FFS!! . Get her talking about the process and you know that every single penny is being well spent. She doesn't do half hearted. She only works on one piece at a time. She pours herself into it. She leaves oils, brush marks and her heart on the canvass.She was explaining that in her last painting she was really getting into a flowing style. The subject of a fish seems to excite her, seems to be exactly the right thing for her to move onto next. If she can get a hint of the liquid nature of her aura at this time on to the canvass we are going to be the incredibly proud owners of something really very special.

When i was getting my haircut that time, she said that she couldn't bring herself to say that she was an artist. With her (yes, I'm going to say it again) work hanging in the NPG tonight, she still can not say she is an artist. She has progressed though. She is comfortable calling herself a painter,  'cos that could mean a painter and decorator or anything'.
Grind

It's an interesting pic and no mistake.

There's a sculpting type in our family (that horsie thing near Eros), but I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before.

I doubt we'd recognise each other.
Fin

To many words for me to read#I'mintwittermode
Butts

Really enjoyed that thank you. I can't be the only one not noticing the chair arm, thanks for pointing that out. I'm sure it's a detail that will have made George chuckle.
lolwarlol

Butts wrote:
Really enjoyed that thank you. I can't be the only one not noticing the chair arm, thanks for pointing that out. I'm sure it's a detail that will have made George chuckle.


Oh, its a real chair.
Butts

Brian wrote:
Butts wrote:
Really enjoyed that thank you. I can't be the only one not noticing the chair arm, thanks for pointing that out. I'm sure it's a detail that will have made George chuckle.


Oh, its a real chair.


Even better!
sheeps

Nice one.

Well done Layla and you.
bearing

I too missed the penis chair until you mentioned it.

It is quite an incredible and striking portrait, I've had a look at the others and there are some really good pieces but some as you mention are like photographs, I'm not altogether convinced by these ones, in my mind art should add something to a subject and not just follow every line.

I wish her all the best and I think she has a really strong chance of taking the crown.
Late Doors

Just been away for a couple of days and always miss Blighty. Been back a matter of hours and nothing says welcome back to Britain more than reading that and thinking of Layla and her Art. Terrific
Omarion

Hi...,Nice post.It is looking so nice picture...The colors used in it really looking so beautiful...I like it.Nice sharing...keep it up
bearing

That's excessive use of ellipses, even by my standards it's taking it too far...
Grind

If only we had some well designed kitchen cabinetry to look at....
bearing

Grind wrote:
If only we had some well designed kitchen cabinetry to look at....


I know, anyone know of a link?
Grind

bearing wrote:
Grind wrote:
If only we had some well designed kitchen cabinetry to look at....


I know, anyone know of a link?


Apparently not.

Too bad.  

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