Sep 152016


Aussie Cyril

The original portrait was by Aussie Cyril. Bleagh. I’ve had to crop it.

My dearest Much-More-Than-Muse Suki –
Yesterday’s shoot was wonderful. Boy, that was a long time of concentration… Wiped me out. A very intense five hours! We worked hard, thought hard, shared lots of ideas, achieved great things. I loved it. Lots of interesting poses, angles, etc… Perhaps you’ll find me a sentimental old fool for sending this one along first, but there is something very special about this photo; the completely relaxed directness… For me, it is close to some of Rembrandt’s, suggesting a mysterious moment; a strange sectioning of time. Strange also because I arrived at this via an intriguing colour version and then a very different black and white, and then experimenting with more contrast…
It will grow on you.

I hate it.
    But it’s great I managed to spin out the session for five hours. Cyril pays me an hourly rate.
    I have no money left apart from what is in Tamara’s envelope.

Dear Cyril,
The breast has to go. There is simply no reason to have a naked breast on a study of an ugly-but-interesting face. The naked breast makes this picture tacky, tawdry and embarrassing. My version makes my right eye the focus, by cropping to just above my collar-bone. See attached. As you know, I rarely like photos of my face, whereas an artwork depicting me is a different matter: I have more distance to those; I don’t care so much about how “I” look, because drawings or paintings say probably more about the artist than they do about me.

Is your cropped version an April Fool’s joke? It is a crying shame to crop it as you have done. I cannot see anything tacky or tawdry. My intention is always to depict the model’s personality, at the same time indicating something about the model-photographer relationship. This seems to me an incredibly tender but very honest portrait. I think it beautiful. If I were a real artist I might hang a 5-foot version of it in my living room.

As said, there is no reason for this picture to be a nude in order to communicate the model’s personality. In my opinion the picture is about the face – and also, compositionally, the lovely arm and hand positions. It is simply tawdry for this older, serious-looking woman to be naked. In this picture I am neither (a) beautiful, nor (b) interesting for being hideously grotesque. The breast is extraneous, hence embarrassing. My crop turns it into a straightforward portrait. I don’t want to be 100% negative. I appreciate that you paid so much attention to getting this image to black and white, which is self-evidently far more effective than the colour version. Suki

I am tired of incessant emailing with Cyril.
    Why nothing from Bel? Could my theory be right? A chest x-ray that showed up something terrible?
    She’s been gone seven days. Without Bel, what is my raison d’etre, here in Shanghai?

I am an April fool.

Bel, pls let me know how things are going. Hard time for you. Take care Sxx



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