1. If you could claim the work of any artist in history, who would it be and why?
Lucian Freud. He seems to remove all artifice from art and paint the universal truth in everything he sees. His work is so single-minded, so concentrated. Each portrait seems to penetrate the soul of the sitter and then speak of life beyond the painting.
2. What is your favourite gallery or museum?
Favourite galleries are ones associated with beautiful memories of visiting them rather than the particular works they are showing. The musee D’Orsay is probably the most emotional and exciting gallery. There are enough extraordinary paintings and sculptures for many lifetimes.
3. What was the last exhibition you saw and did you enjoy it?
Perhaps not the last exhibition but one that always sticks in the mind was the Vilhelm Hammershøi exhibition. This was full of intense and meticulous studies of solitude and privacy and moments of exquisite silence somehow captured on canvas. Again, paintings that spoke far beyond their simple representation of houses and rooms and their inhabitants.
4. What is your first artworld memory?
I went to Germany as an excitable young student and was discovering the world of Berlin high culture and subculture. I was taken to the Museum of Modern Art and an exhibition of the french fête galante painter, Antoine Watteau. The germans take art so seriously and with such intellectual rigour and coolness; there was no going back.
5. What was the last piece of art you bought or wanted to buy?
It was a piece by the English artist Eugene Wolfberg. He paints mostly abstract extrapolations inspired by apparently mundane objects or moments from the everyday. They seem to have infinite layers of meaning and I can spend hours peering into them.
I have now befriended him but am none the wiser.
6. What is the power of art, in your opinion?
I don’t know what the power of art is; but it has manifested itself throughout history as a potent political force; illuminated the human condition and allowed us to marvel at the beauty of the world and the genius of the artist.
7. If you could own any piece of art in the world what would it be?
Girl with Beret by Lucian Freud in the Manchester Art Gallery.
8. Are you artistic?
Unfortunately, a well-drawn game of hangman is where my artistic skills begin and end.
9. If you were your favourite artist, who or what would you use as your inspiration or muse?
The dark continent of women. A never ending inspiration.
10. You are having a dinner party, you need 5 more guests, including 2 from the world of art, who would you invite?
From living artists I would, at the risk of being repetitive, be delighted to dine with Lucian Freud and Eugene Wolfberg. If we are in the world of fantasy then I would add Rodin and Rembrandt to the list. But it might be quite an awkward evening.
Copyright 2011, Portman Gallery.