I have, after nearly six years, completed my self portrait in 5 parts, part 2 (Soul) below being the last part to be painted. The parallel life story which initiated and tracked this mammoth task might be of some interest but as a general rule I am silent regarding any discussion about meaning and content, sorry, they are what they are. My work, for good or ill, stands on its own and speaks for itself. Such meaning as is there is either self-evident given enough effort on the part of the viewer, is not worth finding or is not meant for you. There are a great many clues in symbols, images, hints and juxtapositions to get your teeth into here as well as elsewhere if you think its worth the effort (in my writing for example). Together they represent the key elements of my life as a sentient adult and depict all that in my view is meaningful of me. Such as I am prepared to comment regarding their inception and creation follows below :-
On Christmas eve 2010 I found myself in the acute assessment unit at our local hospital with what turned out to be a dodgy appendix. By the time it had been properly scanned, analysed and diagnosed, it had burst. I contracted peritonitis and after nearly 5 weeks involving a close encounter of the grim reaper variety (the intermediate story is wholly unsuitable for family consumption and not a great advertisement for our dysfunctional NHS) I left the hospital wholly unfit to leave, 28Kg lighter, in a wheelchair and effectively disabled with an ileostomy bag, a mucous fistula and a promise by the consultant that in spite of the hospitals best endeavours to remove my existence from the planet he would reconnect me if I was ever stupid enough to trust him again and if I was strong enough to recover. I took a certain amount of pride in the fact that I now had my own RADAR key.
Its an old cliché but true, there is nothing like coming within a whisker of one’s own demise to focus one’s attention on the things that matter in life and in particular what you hope, if anything, to achieve with the life that is left to you. This is going to sound bizarre and it probably is but I decided to work backwards from a future death and work out what I might hope to achieve and make a realistic plan for executing it within what I now fully expected to be a foreshortened span.
OPUSCULA was conceived which, amongst other things (this auto-blography for example), featured a biographical painted work called Self Portrait in 5 parts. Work started, almost it could be said, from my wheelchair in the April of 2011 (I depended on a wheelchair and the motive power of my dear wife for 4 weeks) and has now been completed just over six months later in August 2018.
Body (part 1) is my corporeal self. I look sick in it, no surprise there. Besides myself I have included my beloved books in an invented library setting. I leave markers in books that are central to my life. My books are as much me as about me. What books I have read, and the order in which I have read them is in itself a part of my story. The books you see, the things you see, the furniture you see are not just objects, they have connections. They are connections to and from me and the things and the people I love.
In the picture I am painting part three of this self portrait, this group of 5, a painting I had not yet started other than in my mind. So part 1 remained unfinished until Part 3 had been completed and could then be added to Body. This was my convoluted, and I think rather cunning and Baldrickian, plan to cover my bases as it were. On its own Body was not sufficient as a portrait unless I had not stood the distance, health wise. But with part if it remaining as unfinished as my demise would have rendered me ‘unfinished’ I had covered both eventualities!
Soul (part 2) is my non-corporeal, but still mortal, self. We have the same names Body is what you see, Soul is what I am. Soul can see you but you cannot see Soul, you can only look for it as you would look for a jet plane in its slowly evaporating trail. I am not mysterious, just not visible, not directly knowable but I am inferable. I am also revealed in the footprints I left on the dirty road. Look for Soul in the processes of the making of this art, in the contours and the maps and the shorelines and the rivers of colours, in the way that they touch, cross, impact, reference and vibrate. Found, I will then be with you in your own invisible, unknowable universes, communing with your souls. I will be waiting for you there.
Promise (part 3) the most intensely confessional and personal part of my life is, to me, the most important of the 5 parts in what it is says about my life. You must work for the answers because I will be of no help. Some of the answers I no longer want to acknowledge. The title is straightforward. My life has been defined by that one promise I will not break, all of my life, to the very minute of my annihilation.
Shostakovitching (part 4). I present myself masked in the persona of one of my heroes conducting the rainbow with a paint brush on an overcast day dominated by the skeletons of undead trees painting a room in my composers skyline. I reminisce and reflect on Blue in Green. I am as real and as apparent in my lies as much as in my truths. I comprehend the realities of others from their art. They are the most visible to Soul which steals their realities from them to enhance its own. I acknowledge and embrace the transparency of appearance and my insignificance in your universe but revel in the power and majesty which I hold in my own.
Fucked or Fantasy (part 5). Metaphysics, transcendental truths, gods and other supernatural ideas like God, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are inventions for people afraid of the dark and the truth. They were created to make philosophy and religion valid and relevant and fill the minds of the credulous whilst allowing their inventors to rule over and feed from them and their inhuman submissiveness. In part 5 I present a story of me. I am not predetermined but self-made. I have never bowed to supernatural agencies invented by humans to dominate other human minds. I am a free man, that stuff is fantasy. What about you though? Is it fantasy for you too or are you indeed well and truly fucked? You decide. I, Paul Warwick, decided at age 10 years and 8 months by a bus stop in Albion Street, Swindon, England and that major event of my life is here depicted.