As a teenager I was obsessed with Klimt’s paintings. I still am. It’s now grown into a fascination with early 20th Century Vienna, The Secession Movement, Gustav and Alma Mahler, Berg, The second Viennese school and Twelve tone composition.
I have been lucky enough to get to Vienna to look at his paintings and bask in the reflection of all that gold he uses. Seeing the actual paintings was a revelation. I was very familiar with the images but images that I thought were huge canvases “Judith” were, in reality, quite small. But what made the greatest impression on me, was his use of silver leaf. I had grown up with some very poor quality reproductions where the gold was yellow, or worse still, an unpleasant brown and some very high quality prints which made an effort to faithfully reproduce the gold in some very costly 5 colour printing processes. But no-one made 6 colour prints and what I hadn’t realised, looking at those jewel like pictures in books, was that sometimes, (unlikely, when you stop and think about it) the grey sections of his paintings were, in fact, silver leaf.
When I was younger, I used to stare at a photograph of someone, trying to read their face to learn who they were. I spent a lot of time looking at a black and white photograph of Klimt and trying to work out what he must have thought of the world. He looked pretty bohemian in his long smock, clutching his cat but his expression was totally bewildered, which didn’t seem to fit with anything I’d read about the man. It’s certainly not how Alma Mahler describes him. I looked for a self portrait to know more about how he saw himself but couldn’t find one. There is a portrait of him, “Klimt in Blaue Malerkittle” by another favourite of mine, Egon Schiele, but I couldn’t find a self portrait. That’s when I decided to try and capture him in his own style. Each of section of the painting made up of different matter, (wood, grass, cloth) is represented by a section of pattern he created in one of his paintings. For example, the pattern of the path is the coat from “The Kiss”, the wooden door is inspired by “The tree of life” – and so on. It’s an imitative tribute, from a great admirer.