(Full Interview) 08 April, 2019
Written by: Maria Oliva, Editor
“I’m currently working on a new series entitled Selah, taking its inspiration from master artists such as Caravaggio, Ribera and Gustave Doré. The exhibition features famous actors and interesting faces. The collection will be exhibited in London and Los Angeles in 2019-20.”
The group sitting, took its inspiration from Gustave Doré (1832–1883), throughout my career has continued to inspire my work . I even wrote my dissertation on his illustrations of The Crusades. One of his most famous pieces “The Neophyte” shows a young man in a monastery with other monks who are much older and appear to be worn out or suffering. During my last working visit to Los Angeles, I had to chance to recreate the painting with six remarkable actors, Tony Amendola, Peter Van Norden, Leo Marks, Bo Foxworth, James Sutorius and Frank Weitzel.
Before the age of 30 Doré created over 100,000 pieces. His art spread to an unprecedented degree in Europe and the United States, both during his lifetime and after his death. He was one of the great purveyors of European culture with his illustrations of major classics.
The painting tickles the imagination, what is in the mind of the Neophyte. Is he young and idealistic? Is he wise beyond his years? Is he arrogant? What is the nature of the other monks. Are they burned-out? Disillusioned?
The portrait photoshoot enabled me to create a living depiction of the work. I chose for the Character of The Neophyte. the very talented Leo Marks. Initially I placed in his mind the character of a young monk and in the minds of the others the roles of the older monks, either sleeping, concentrating or reading. However, I decided to simplify my direction by asking the actors to imagine that they are not priests, but instead that they are waiting at a bus stop. Each with a different reason to be sitting, directing Leo. “ I said imagine you are a wanted man” and that myself the photographer has recognised you. This allowed us to create the facade he was the odd one out, just as Doré had created in his depiction. It is my belief that art should be simple, keeping your direction uncomplicated and straightforward.