Thursday, 1 February 2018

Q & A with Paul Simonon

Before becoming a member of The Clash Paul Simonon was a student at The Byam School of Art. I first became aware of his art 30 years ago when I bought the Big Audio Dynamite L.P "Tighten Up 88" which has one of his paintings on the cover. In recent years Simonon has had 3 successful solo shows at Thomas Williams fine art, the ICA and Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox.
Harry Pye: Do you paint pretty much every day? Do you tend to work better early in the day or on an empty stomach? Do you work in silence or have the radio on? Paul Simonon: "I do paint almost every day..... recently I’ve been working on Lino prints ... alternating between the print and canvas. I don’t know if I work better in the morning or afternoon....I’m always trying to make sense of what I’m doing 24 hours a day. If I do have the radio on...it’s probably Radio 4 extra....I like the comedy programs buzzing in the back ground..... If I work plein air...then I won’t eat till I get home...depends where I am."
Some people are better at playing pool after drinking a pint of two. What do you like to drink? And do you ever paint whilst slightly tipsy? "Occasionally....I like drinking wine in the day and whiskey at night ..... I never paint sloshed or tipsy... I need to be totally focused."
What do you admire most about John Bratby's work? What do you consider to be his best painting (and why)? "I admire most painters because I understand the process and challenges involved in creating a piece of work. I particularly like John Bratby for painting ‘everyday objects... cereal packets, pots & pans.....even his toilet."
Recently there was a compilation of Clash cover versions (Specialized: Combat Cancer) sold in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. Are you flattered when band's perform Clash songs? Did you like either Nouvelle Vague or Jimmy Cliff's cover of Guns of Brixton? "If anything we ever did as The Clash contributes in anyway to individuals or charities ...that’s a positive. I did like the Nouvelle Vague version...they did something very imaginative and moody with it."
Do you prefer West London to South London? What are your favourite London Parks and bridges? (Above painting by Paul is of Millbank bridge) "I like all of London and all the parks & bridges.... At the moment I like Paddington best because I live there......it has a canal and a proper street market that hasn’t been messed up with Starbucks etc ."
If Bernard Rhodes got in contact and asked you to paint his portrait would you consider it an honour to be asked? Do you think you'd be able to capture his delicate features? When was the last time your paths crossed? "I can paint Bernard from memory ...I just need a bucket of paint and brush. We keep in touch...we are pen friends."
The Clash were photographed by some great photographers - is there any one photo from your Clash days that has a place in your heart? Or any photographers you particularly enjoyed the company of? "I like Pennie Smith, she smokes Gitanes and takes great black & white photos."
Are you interested in politics? Do you support a party or have faith in any politicians? "I am very interested in politics and I’m glad Corbyn has brought the Labour Party back to its grass roots..."
What are you working on at the moment? When is the next solo show going to be, will it have a theme? "I’m always working on paintings...I’ll only have a exhibition when someone says ‘ Paul...it’s about time you had a show....let me organise it for you."
What aspect of your work are you most confident about? What are your strengths? "Persistence!"
Of all the paintings that you can go and see in London for free what would you recommend people to go and have a closer look at? Are there any paintings at The National or Tate you go back to marvel at? "I would recommend going to all of them...The Dulwich Picture Gallery has quite a few gems. Hogarth’s ‘The Shrimp Girl’ at the National Gallery is a painting that I marvel at.... like it was painted yesterday....it’s so fresh and full of life!"
For more info on Paul's art visit: here
(Above: Just For Kicks linocuts are personally hand-made by Paul, and hand coloured for each individual print, making each one truly unique. They are printed on hand cut Kraft art paper in a limited edition of 20 signed and numbered by Paul. Dimensions are 28.5 cm x 40 cm but might vary slightly.)

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