Questioning Adults (Vragende Volwassen) or What Object Would You Like To Own But Know That, For Whatever Reason, You Never Will? Whatever It Is I Will Remake It For You, 2007
-Carved balsa wood & enamel paints / Cartridge paper & coloured pencil in frame
83cm x 60cm / 30cm x 24cm
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A private commission that led to me forging the painting 'Questioning Children' 1948, by Karel Appel.
Invited to make a new work for the home of two architects I devised a project that asked the question "What object would you like to own but know that, for whatever reason, you never will? Whatever it is I will remake it for you".
The question prompted a long negotiation as we discussed the various potential outcomes, whittling a long list of options - literary first editions, prototypes, photographs, designer objects - down to the final selection. They finally chose the Karel Appel piece as a poster for this work had always been in one of their uncles homes when they would visit as a child.
Once the object had been chosen I went back to the studio to work out how I could reproduce this assemblage of found wood and broadly applied oil paint. Deciding to aim for a purely visual recreation I took the model maker's approach and used a scalpel, balsa wood, small tins of enamel paint and fine brushes to exactly replicate every shape, crack, drip and splatter.
The title 'Vragende Volwassen' is Dutch for 'Questioning Adults', a reference to the artwork's origins.
(Above: After I posed the question they initially replied with a shortlist of objects to replicate written on an old phone bill envelope. As it had been with us throughout the process I decided to use my newly honed replication skills to copy it too, crafting a scale version out of cartridge paper with a scalpel, exactly copying the envelope's interrior pattern and their handwriting in coloured pencil.)
The original 'Questioning Children', Karel Appel, 1948.
Gouache on found wood, 83cm x 60cm
© Collection Centre Pompidou