A timely reassessment of the raw, powerful work of John Bellany – with more than 50 of his works featuring across Fornum and Masons.
John Bellany and David Bowie had a ‘life-affirming’ friendship, says artist’s widow
An exhibition of Bellany’s work has gone on display in Fortnum and Mason.
Naomi Ackerman Monday 18th September 2017
The widow of celebrated artist John Bellany today spoke of his “life-affirming” friendship with David Bowie as an exhibition of his work — including a portrait of the pair together — opened in Fortnum and Mason.
The musician, who died last year at 69, had been a fan of Bellany’s work since he was an unknown art student at Kingston College. The pair met in the Eighties at a Serpentine Gallery exhibition of the artist’s work. Bellany died in 2013 aged 71. His widow Helen said Bowie bought a couple of his paintings and asked to meet the artist. She said: “He came down to our house in Clapham and it was at a time that John was literally dying because he was waiting for a liver transplant.
“So it was amazing timing and they just connected on that level, two artists who were looking for the same thing. A friendship was formed for a lifetime.
“The painting is one [John] did from memory of their [first] meeting. It sort of expresses the great friendship and deep affinity they found within each other. It was such an affirming moment when they found each other and it boosted his life when he was very weak and frail. That’s how important that friendship was.”
The Bellanys spent time with Bowie at their home in London and Edinburgh, she said, adding that her husband would have been “staggered and completely amused” at the new exhibition. The show, organised by Bellany patron Frank Cohen and curated by Robert Upstone, former head of Modern British art at the Tate, will see works hung around the Piccadilly store.
The exhibition will run until the end of October.