Kunstforum Lÿz, Siegen
Fr., 30.4.99, 12 a.m.
Write down by Alex Atkins
Baker: Ladies and gentlemen, Paul McCartney.
Paul McCartney (PMcC): Thank you and Guten Tag!
Q 1 (Flemish Radio): Sir Paul, do you think you have found your own style in painting yet? Is that your intention or do you just see your painting as one of the many manifestations of underlying core skills?
PMcC: Yes, I think a style is maybe beginning to emerge, because when I started that was the most difficult question: "What do I want my style to be?" So I just decided to do anything I wanted at first and just see if it led me anywhere. Yes, I think it is starting to get a recognisable style but I'm not particularly looking for one. I think it's just happening naturally.
Q 2 (from Italy): Hi, Paul. Compliment for this exhibition. I'm glad to inform you that I supported your exhibition in Italy, informing all the Italian press, and many city councillors asked me about this exhibition because they would like to build in two or three towns in Italy. It is possible to do this?
PMcC: Even though they haven't seen the pictures?
Q 2: I think, yes. In the end they would like to have a ...
PMcC: That would be very nice, I think.
Q 3: Why do you show your pictures in Siegen and not in New York or in London or in Paris?
PMcC: Wolfgang was the first person to approach me kind of seriously. Because in truth I made a joke there but many people did say "We'd like to give you an exhibition", and I said "But you haven't seen the pictures" and they said "That's OK". You know, because they were willing to just exhibit the celebrity. But Wolfgang was the first person who came up and said "I'd like to look at your pictures and I'd like to examine them". So he took a very serious approach, and that's how I've ended up here. This is where he lives, Siegen, and this is his gallery. So, you know, I think it's good because it's my first experience too, to see If I like it, and then if an offer comes for London or New York then maybe do that then.
Q 4: Hello, Mr McCartney, wasn't it a risk for you to make an exhibition, a historic person like you who is so great in music, now on a different territory, to make art? Are you perhaps a little bit frightened about the critics that you will get tomorrow?
PMcC: You know it's always risky to do something outside your own field, but I think I've always been risky. I think, with the Beatles a lot of what we did was very risky, but I like that. That's what I enjoy about art, it's the risk. You know, I didn't need to do this from that point of view but I like painting and I've been painting for 16 years so I just thought maybe it's time and once I got the offer to do it I thought "Yeah, maybe it's time to let people see what I've been doing". I'm not too worried about the risk, you know, I don't really care what the critics think. I more care what I think of it. You know, I'm the person I've go to please with it. And I know a lot of people will just automatically not like it because it's me. But that's OK, that's a risk but it's not too big a risk, I don't think. I hope.
Q 5: Hi, I'm Walter Fischer from Style magazine, two questions ...
Geoff Baker: One question, Walter ...
Q 5: One question, OK, it's going to be the funny one then ... Has the Queen actually seen her portraits and if so what did she say about them?
PMcC: She hasn't seen it, no.
Q 5: One more question since it was a very short one?
PMcC: Yeah, sure, why not?
Q 5: How influential was Willem de Kooning actually and do you see yourself perhaps in the footsteps of Abstract Expressionism or ... ?
PMcC: Like I said originally, I'm not a very school ... I kind of made it up myself but I've been influenced by people like de Kooning, because he was a good friend. My wife's father was his lawyer and helped him a lot so I naturally just used to go round to his studio and he was one of the first people who, when I talked to him, liberated me enough to think that it'd be OK if I painted, because I had this problem, you know, this "I don't paint, only people who go to art school paint, we don't". So it was a block. Well, just in talking to him, and he was very interesting to talk to, he liberated me so it made me think "Yes, I should try it if I want to".
Q 6 (Berlin Radio): My question is, it is known that you were drawing a long time before you were painting but why had you started so late with oil painting? I read that it was in 83, around that date. Why had you started so late?
PMcC: You know since I was at school I used to do OK at art and then with the Beatles I would maybe do caricatures of people, just draw the people around us or the group. Well, I didn't really have any time for anything else then, and when I reached the age of forty, somebody said, you know, "Life begins at forty", so I looked for a few things that would begin and nothing began, so I said, well, I wanted to do painting along time so maybe this is now the time I should maybe do it. And then in talking to Bill de Kooning he said something that really liberated me, so I went and bought canvases and oil paints and I've been painting ever since.
Q 7: Who or what inspires you when you start painting a new picture?
PMcC: It can be a lot of things, you know, if I have an idea for what I want to paint then that is what inspires me. But sometimes I just paint to have an excuse to put paint on a canvas. I like the act of applying paint on a canvas. So sometimes I just make it up, I don't have anything in mind, and I just follow the paint. Sometimes it's trying to do a portrait, for instance of Linda, then that would be the inspiration. It's many different types of things, but it's normally just the mood. I have to be in the mood to do it. I never do it if I'm not in the mood. I don't slave away at it. I normally just think "Yes, I'd like to paint". It's as simple as that.
Q 8 (Radio Hamburg): Hi, Paul. What was your funniest experience while painting?
PMcC: I don't know really, I think ... One time I was painting, and as often happens when you're outdoors, a fly lands on the canvas, and you see him give his life for art. And one of the paintings had a fly on it, so I decided, OK I'll leave it. And it just stayed there for years and years and when we were coming to do this I knew the paintings would have to travel, so I thought that fly's going to go. So we had big discussions with the art people, the archivists, about how can we do this, you know, what can we do - spray it? "Well, it's going to change the colour of the canvas a little bit", you know, and in the end I went (whistles) "Goodbye, fly!". So there's no fly any more.
Q 9: Paul, I saw very good pictures, paintings, and some of them specially connected with nature, on the beach, for example. So can you imagine, is it possible for you spontaneously to say now if you would like to be a part of a feature film about sustainable living in a community and you as a painter in this community, an international feature film. I would like to give you a little letter, if you've finished the press conference, to address it to you. Thank you very much.
PMcC: It's an offer. Yeah. OK. Thanks. I'm getting work! Ah, here's the very letter, you give it to him, he'll give it to me later.
Q 10 (Welt am Sonntag): Mr McCartney, is the process of painting more difficult and more strenuous for you than composing?
PMcC: No, because I do it for pleasure, and because I don't sell the paintings, it's important for me to enjoy it, so I try to remove any moments of worry or angst but I have a few little tricks to make it easy for me to enjoy it. So normally it's as exciting as writing a song, if it works, it's the same kind of feeling. But I think I'm maybe a little more relaxed about it, it's very similar. I don't have much trouble painting, I always enjoy it.
Q 11 (People magazine): Sir Paul, when do you enjoy most painting and how often do you spend painting?
PMcC: I enjoy ... It's a question of mood, you know, if I don't feel like painting then I don't bother, I do something else. But I paint when I have time. Sometimes I paint for a couple of months quite regularly, and then sometimes I don't paint for a while. So I'm not of these guys who go in every day and slogs at it, you know. So it's really just when I feel like doing it and when I've got an idea.
Q 12: The first question was about whether you thought you were developing a style of your own. If you were to describe your paintings to the man in the street, or your next door neighbour, how would you describe your work?
PMcC: I don't know really. I'd like to have an answer to that, because it's an important question, but I don't really know. I think it's towards abstract and maybe it comes out of faces. But I don't really understand it, you know, but I'm not trying to understand it. That's important for me. I'm not really worried what it means, what it all adds up to, you know. I think it means that I like painting, that's all.
Q 13 (Daily Mail): Now that everyone knows what you've really been up to in the last 16 years they're going to be at your doorstep, of Paul McCartney the painter. How are you going to cope with that? How are you going to cope with people wanting you to do commissions, wanting to buy paintings from you? How it is going to change what up to now has been something you've done because you've wanted to do it?
PMcC: I'll just refuse. I mean, I wouldn't take commissions, I'm not that kind of a painter. A lot of the normal rules that apply to painters who do it for a living fortunately don't apply to me. So there is quite a difference. I talk to friends of mine who do it for a living and they've got a whole different set of rules from what I've got. So I don't think I'd take commissions. It's as simple as that.
Q 14: I very much like the paintings, but to what extent have you been inspired by the art of John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe, as they started in art before you?
PMcC: I think ... in the spirit of what they did. I don't think any of what I do is like what they did. But I think in just the spirit of freedom I would be inspired by John and Stuart. Stuart was a really good painter before he joined the group. He liked people like de Stael and stuff like that, you know, and John was more of a drawer than a painter. John didn't really paint much to my knowledge, he just did a couple of paintings, I think. But their spirit, you know, the freedom of "Just go do it", I think probably that would be the most inspiring thing.
Q 15: Mr McCartney, do you see any connections between sounds and colours, like sympathetic connections? Is there any similarity for you?
PMcC: Yes. A friend of mine who ... I was doing a recording session and he's a painter, and he noticed that we were talking about the music as though it was a visual thing, you know, so I think there are a lot of similarities. You talk about the sounds, you talk about the colour of the sounds and things. I think there are some points where they cross over, but I don't really listen to music when I paint. It's a music in here (pointing to his head), that's what I listen to.
Q 16: Mr McCartney, I think it's amazing how many musicians paint or do other creative arts, and vice versa. Is it a kind of sport for creative people to do the creative arts that are not their profession?
PMcC: I think, it's not a new thing, you know. There have been many people throughout history who liked to do a few things, like Leonardo da Vinci. I mean, I'm not comparing myself to him but that's a good example of someone ... Nobody ever had a problem with him doing various things. I think it's an old thing. I'm slightly embarrassed by it because it'd be so much easier just to be a musician, you know, and shut up. I wouldn't have to do this, but I do enjoy it and I'm not ashamed of it so I don't see anything wrong with it and this exhibition is just in case there are people out there who want to look at what I've been doing. Then this is an opportunity, you know. But that's that.
Q 17 (Facts, Switzerland): If art is a possibility to express feelings, which feelings can be expressed with painting and which feelings can be expressed with music better?
PMcC: I think it is possible to convey all feelings with both. I think ... really. Yes, that's the answer! Short, eine Kurzantwort!
Q 18: Paul, I came from Russia, from Volgograd, and I was very surprised to see how beautiful your pictures are, and I want to ask you what do you think about an exhibition in Russia? Do you like it?
PMcC: You know, future exhibitions would be great. This is really the first serious offer I've had, and I didn't know whether I'd hate it or whether I'd like it, whether it'd be a difficult experience. So far it's OK. You know, when I see the critics saying "He can't paint for toffee", then maybe it may become more difficult. But if I don't read them, then that'd be quite easy! So, yes, I'm quite happy to have exhibitions for anyone who wants me really. It'd be great to exhibit in Russia, yeah.
Geoff Baker: Thanks very much, ladies and gentlemen.
PMcC: OK, thank you. Enjoy the exhibition.
Photographs of the press conference © Kultur!Büro. Britta Beuter
PAUL McCARTNEY paintings
, Kunstforum Lÿz, Siegen, 1. Mai bis 25. Juli 1999
Konzeption & Organisation der Ausstellung: Kultur!Büro. Kreis Siegen-Wittgenstein
Paintings © Paul McCartney. Photographs of the artist © Estate of Linda McCartney
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