PORTRAIT OF PUTIN AS A YOUNG MAN

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.

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8 responses to “PORTRAIT OF PUTIN AS A YOUNG MAN

  1. Wow! Thank you for sharing Wilfred Wood’s work and this story. These are very interesting.

    • I think so too. Glad you enjoyed this. Presumably, Putin deep inside, still has some humanity. (?)

      • I was hoping that Putin still had some glint of humanity, but with what he has done to the Ukraine, I fear he is cut out of the very same cloth as trump. Neither have any redeeming qualities that would make them the slightest bit “human”.

      • They must have, surely, even if those sides are not immediately apparent.

        Easy to imagine that they don’t though, also.The bombing of innocent civilians that is happening is cruel and deliberately sadistic.

  2. I am loving how he captured the reptilian glint of Putin’s eyes. Freddie Mercury is hilarious, complete with overbite! I want the shrunken head voodoo doll Bowie bronzes too. The pup is a great caricature also.
    I would love to see more of Mr Wood’s work, does he have a current show anywhere?

    • I am not sure – but there are a lot of articles about him online, including a New York Times feature. Freddie Mercury is BRILLIANT I think: and yes, the ‘reptilian glint’ is incredible.

      You and I shall fight with our fists over the Bowies: I am TRANSFIXED by them: so hideous in a way, with the teeth and the flat faces, but so hypnotic I could sit and stare at them all day. He has done quite a lot of Bowies actually – when they came to Japan, I remember him talking about how much he idolized him.

  3. Wow, they are all interesting works and really enjoyed looking at them, even the hideous Bowies. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Such amazing works!! What a talent!

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