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Paul McCartney








Paul McCartney










Paul’s Art

Impressions of Paul McCartney’s art exhibition


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Beatles Ireland Member Jens Schurmann lives in Germany not too far from a place called Siegen. He found time to go and have a look at Paul’s art exhibition, and gives us his impressions of Paul’s work.


It was the early morning of a beautiful day (my birthday) when I got on the train that would bring my girlfriend and I to Siegen, an old town in the south of Westphalia, in Germany. (This region is known as the Siegerland, which got its name of the river Sieg that flows into the Rhine). In Siegen you can find two castles, a university and a new shopping centre, but up to this day I had never had a reason to go there although the landscape around this town is wonderful. If you ever go by train look out the window and enjoy the countryside. The track sometimes follows the river you pass little towns and villages, you travel through tunnels (it is a mountainous region) and through large forests.


Disappointing or Impressive?

I was very expectant of what it would be like to see paintings by Paul McCartney. Would it be disappointing or 'as I hoped' impressive? If you haven’t read all of the last newsletters carefully, about 70 of over 500 paintings that Paul painted since 1983 were shown in Siegen for the first time ever in public. Paul had always been afraid of an exhibition because he had expected that he would be taken seriously as a painter only because of his fame as a former Beatle.


He finally chose this provincial town for his first exhibition. Wolfgang Suttner, Cultural Events Officer for the Siegen-Wittgenstein district, came in contact with Paul after he had written him a letter in which he expressed his interest in Paul’s paintings. He was invited to London and after several visits over an number of years later Paul agreed with the idea of an exhibition in Siegen.



What Paul had expected came to pass, hundreds of reporters from newspapers and TV stations all over Europe, came to the opening although nobody had ever seen anything of this painter before. Everyone wanted to see the work of the former Beatle who has written some of the most beautiful and most important contemporary of songs, now attempting to be seen as a serious painter (I have to confess that I also would have never been interested in the exhibition were it not by Paul McCartney because I am not into art at all).  


There were many posters on advertising pillars drawing one’s attention to the exhibition - even in my town which is a few hundred kilometres from Siegen and in Siegen itself there were posters wherever you looked.


Something Missing

However there was one detail missing, an address or something else, which could have helped one to find the way from the station to the gallery. Nothing! We walked around looking for direction, and I finally decided to ask somebody the way. My girlfriend suddenly said, "Look!" a few metres above and in front of us there was a little poster saying 'Paul McCartney - Paintings' and an arrow pointing the way to the gallery. We went in this direction and after some time reached the end of the town. Did we have to go that far or (which was more likely) was there a arrow missing that would have shown a change of direction? We decided to turn back. At the next intersection we discovered the missing arrow on the other side of the road!


Photo’s of Linda

Finally we reached the gallery. It was still morning and only a few people were about, but the guest book was about the fifth, and as the woman at the entrance said, "perhaps some of the people hoped that Paul would read what they had written and they couldn’t stop writing". In the foyer you were already inside an exhibition area. About ten photos which Linda had taken were displayed there. Only three or four items showing Paul as a painter; the black and white photo's on front of the photograph booklet; the others were landscapes or clouds, as far as I remember (You must realise that it is hard to remember everything because I saw so many pictures on this day).

When we went into the next room we saw the first original paintings by Paul. It was impressive.


Completely White

The room was completely white and the only contrasts were provided by the people in there and by the paintings. We slowly went around and had a look at all of them. This took some time but it was worth it. I didn’t like them all because some of the paintings were very strange to look at. As I do not know too much about art I can only say that I think about ten of the pictures were really good and interesting. I liked the colours and some aspect of them. Others were average, and some I didn’t like at all. In my opinion the paintings often were better the less you saw of them. If Paul had painted less in abstract and it would have been better for me.


Celtic Motifs

In most of the pictures you can see persons or their faces. This fact makes many of them similar. A few show landscapes. Sometimes Paul uses Celtic motifs. He portrays famous persons like David Bowie 'spewing', Andy Warhol 'in the garden' or The Queen who is portrayed 'after her first cigarette' or while she is 'getting a joke'. One painting is called 'John’s room'. It shows a surreal scene in a strange room, which is supposed to be John Lennon’s. These paintings and a few others were very interesting.

To our surprise this was not all that there was to see. At the end of the exhibition you came into a narrow corridor with six'monitor-sculptures' which had been especially designed by Paul. This was the video installation 'feedback' where videos ran simultaneously. On each one of them Paul was standing in front of a large wall of amplifiers playing a guitar 'melody' - some strange notes was the same on all videos. On his head he wore a big helmet. The information sheet said there was a short passage of the video where Paul holds an electric saw in his hands, but we didn’t see that part or what he did with it because these sixvideos didn’t start at the same time. There was a great noise in this corridor which sounded like Sonic Youth and Einstfirzende Neubauten together in concert!


I was glad that I wasn’t the person who had to supervise this part of the exhibition. We looked at the monitor screens for a few minutes until our ears had had enough and then we were back at the foyer. I enjoyed this exhibition a lot, and didn’t want to be already through it. It was a great day, I am lucky that Siegen is not too far away from where I live. I don’t think that this is the last time Paul McCartney’s paintings will be exhibited, and so if you ever get the chance to see them -

Go there!

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