We had lunch today with a friend over from England, the lovely Aru – a very spritely, unique and romantically unfettered individual who moved to the UK through his love of The Smiths and his dream of Medieval troubadors, and who was married to the brilliantly satirical London-based sculptor Wilfred Wood for five years. Meeting through a mutual friend I lived with in Rome, D and I once spent a fascinating afternoon and evening at their studio (and amazingly curious and stimulating) house of art treasures in Hackney Wick, where the spitting images (Wilfred actually worked for the hilarious TV show, where he realized his uncanny knack for nailing the essence of both the famous and the not) were lined up on shelves; some giant; some in miniature; an organized chaos of novelty and biting comedy.
Parting amicably, the two remain friends, and it was lovely today just sitting in the gardens of the beautiful Villa Koga in Kamakura, drinking bellinis and snacking on overpriced truffle pommes frites with Aru and catching up on everything – it has been a few years – from the extended flight now necessary between the UK and Japan (over Alaska and Greenland… it will be my first time) to the differences in corona etiquette (he couldn’t believe that everyone here is still walking around in masks – he has had Covid 19 three times), to talk of what Wilfred has recently been creating – all kinds of things, apparently; he has become quite famous since that time that we stayed at his house, and with no wonder: I think his work is hilarious, a real feast for the eyes – and technically brilliant.
(( I really, badly, want these mesmerizingly odd and freakish bronze David Bowies….))
As we moved on to a more serious discussion of the ongoing atrocities in Ukraine, Aru mentioned that Wilfred had once actually done a sculpture called Vladimir Putin As A Young Boy and that it was one of his personal favourites. I thought I would share it with you. In its powerfully eerie zealotry, I think this piece captures something very precise about the now monster and dictator in its cold ice blue stare and faint glimmer of a sardonic grin : it also makes me wonder what he was actually like in his formative years, before the obsession with Russian hegemony took over his mind and he made the fatal step of his current miscalculations. For me, dare I say it, this sculpture is also undeniably beautiful, in its execution and balance and the way it seizes the former, more youthful ‘essence’ of this globally reviled politician; deliberately not so Wilfred’s latest endeavours, which comically (but sincerely) involve doing quick sketches of Putin for charity efforts in Ukraine, which you are invited to throw darts at or stick pins in – or whatever you personally choose.