Paul McCartney Paintings Go on Display - Rolling Stone
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Paul McCartney Paintings Go on Display

Paul McCartney Paintings Go on Display

The creative rivalry that characterized John Lennon and Paul
McCartney’s musical relationship now extends to the visual arts.|
Just a month after news broke of the first permanent display of
Lennon prints at Liverpool’s Mathew Street Gallery, seventy-three
of Paul McCartney’s 600 paintings have gone on display at the
Kunstforum Lyz gallery in the German town of Siegen, and they’re
drawing rave reviews from art critics.

According to McCartney, he did not begin painting until 1982, as he
had always been reluctant to put brush to canvas because he didn’t
feel qualified. “Someone said life begins at forty, and I wanted to
begin, but nothing began,” McCartney told reporters at a press
conference at the German gallery. “I had this problem … that ‘I
don’t paint.'” But his friend, painter Willem de Kooning, persuaded
him to start. “He was one of the first people to liberate me.”

McCartney representative Paul Freundlich says the former Beatle has
been painting steadily for the past sixteen years. His work came to
the attention of a German cultural events manager named Wolfgang
Suttner, who read about Sir Paul’s “hobby” and urged her father to
contact him. Suttner in turn wrote a letter to the musician asking
for permission to see the paintings and evaluate their potential
for a show. Much to his surprise, McCartney responded, inviting
Suttner to his Sussex, England, home to view the paintings.

“Many [people] did in fact approach me and said they were willing
to put on an exhibition, but they hadn’t seen the paintings,”
McCartney explained. “Wolfgang was the first one who came up and
said, ‘I’d like to look at the pictures and examine them.'”

Noted art critic John Russell Taylor not only examined them at
length, but praised the works. “These are the works of someone who,
in front of a blank canvas thinks and feels in paint,” he told the
London Times. “These pictures are challenging: They force
the spectator to react . . . Many of them might be taken to mirror
a personal anguish in McCartney. If there is autobiography here, it
emerges directly from McCartney’s unconscious. Which is just what
painters do — real painters, that is.

According to critics, McCartney’s art is influenced by the abstract
expressionists but also contains elements of pop art and
surrealism, while some pieces are cartoon-like caricatures, such as
one titled, “Elvish Me,” a self-portrait in which Sir Paul paints
himself as an Elvis lookalike. Many of the paintings are influenced
by his late wife, Linda, including “Yellow Linda With Piano” and
“Linda Yellow Cross.” Other familiar faces include Rolling Stone
drummer Charlie Watts, David Bowie, Lennon, Andy Warhol and Queen
Elizabeth II.

I know a lot of people will just automatically not like it because
it’s me, but that’s okay,” said McCartney. “It’s always risky to do
something outside your own field. But I think I’ve always been
taking risks. Back when I was a part of the Beatles, a lot of what
we did was risky.”

None of the paintings are for sale, according to McCartney’s
representative. They will be on display at Kunstforum Lyz,
St-Johann-Strauss 18 in Siegen until July 25. They will move to the
U.K. later this year.

In This Article: Paul McCartney


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