“This has been a huge year for me: with the publication of my book Me, According to the History of Art. As you’ve probably heard by now, I set out to get around international copyright law by personally illustrating all the paintings I reference in the text. Legally this mad gambit wasn’t entirely successful but it did reconnect me with my own golden age of Modernism: early 20th century cubism, with emphasis on the Synthetic period, which generated an outcome further down the track which still confounds me.
During the final stages of the book’s production I was lucky enough to visit the Reina Sofia Gallery in Madrid where I saw and photographed a fantastic collection of Juan Gris paintings that I had never seen before. The effect on me of being in a room full of these gorgeous paintings, all in their perfect museum frames, was overwhelming and the idea started to grow then that I could conceivably recreate a similar sensation back home in Auckland. A bit like being moved by any moment in the ‘real’ world that inspires you to somehow codify it into a portable experience back in your studio/workshop.
I continued with the A4 sized illustrations of all my Gris’, Picasso’s, Warhol’s etc. when I got back home but gradually started to test the limits of the concept by reproducing a couple of the key works (Picasso, McCahon) to scale… on canvas… with all the underpainting, corrections and textures inherent in the original work (for some godforsaken reason I’m quite good at this stuff). Then I did a few more… which naturally segued into the original fantasy: reproducing the hugely romantic and nostalgic rush I experienced back in the Reina Sofia. Lots of serendipity there... story of my life.
I have so many people to thank for helping me to make all this happen and a lot of them are acknowledged in the book, but I would especially like to thank Tony Gibb at the John Leech Framing Workshop for the magnificent job he did of sourcing all the fantastic frames and matching them to the individual works. The overall effect is everything I was hoping for
People ask me if I’ve learnt anything from all this close examination and I say, apart from the cost of fancy framing, ‘not really… but I definitely had to use everything I’ve learnt!’.”
- Dick Frizzell, Artist Statement, September 2020