45RPM exhibition at 45 Park Lane
Best known as the youngest artist commissioned to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, Christian Furr has teamed up with the godfather of rock photography, Gered Mankowitz for a unique collaboration entitled 45RPM, showing this summer in the Lobby Lounge and BAR 45 at 45 Park Lane.
The aptly entitled exhibition, 45RPM, fuses Furr’s distinct painting style with Gered’s iconic photography and features signed, original prints from artists such as The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Kate Bush.
We caught up with the creative visionaries to find out the inspiration behind their exhibition, their favourite places for art in the capital, and how London’s culturally diverse background serves as the ultimate artists’ muse.
When and how did you two first meet?
I think we met about a dozen years ago. Christian suggested a portrait swap which I was delighted to do. He painted my portrait and I photographed him in his studio – it was fun and felt like a positive coming together of minds. We remained friends since then and when Christian proposed a collaboration I jumped at the idea
I think I get my best ideas after a night of sleep. The brain works things out for you when you are asleep. Christian Furr
You’re both visually stimulating artists who use different mediums to express your creativity. How did this meeting of the minds come together?
I was staring at one of my Mankowitz’s on the wall one day and saw it in colours in my mind. I contacted Gered and we had a little chat about doing something together.
The collaboration itself was a bit like a musical process. The initial sessions involved us hanging out having philosophical discussions and then going through the extensive collection of images Gered has at his studio in Cornwall. I bought some painted things I had done then we kicked ideas around before we finally sat at the computer where we turned our ideas into reality. Gered has been hand-producing the prints himself in Cornwall and I have been doing my thing to them in my studio in Richmond.
We have various different mediums on the go; all hand-finished by myself and we are constantly talking together so it is definitely a meeting of minds. Some of it I think has never been done before so there is an element of invention to it too, which is thrilling.
Who came up with the great title for the exhibition?
That was me. I woke up in the early morning with it. I think I get my best ideas after a night of sleep. The brain works things out for you when you are asleep.
What was the criteria for choosing which photographs to work with?
Just looking at something with both pairs of eyes. And suddenly thinking YES that has something. This means images that haven’t been seen before have become part of our collection.
To be honest, that side of things fell into place pretty easily as well ‒ Christian knows my work in depth and we clicked at every choice.
With the 45RPM collaboration, how did you know when each piece of art was complete?
I never know when something is finished. But I get to a point with a print where it feels right and I sense that there is enough of me on the paper. That’s when it’s time for Christian to complete the vision
What is it about London that inspires you as an artist?
Variety! London has bags of it – it’s like the spice of life. All the different areas of London have their own vibe, history and culture. For example, Soho has a great, buzzy atmosphere. Kensington Gardens has featured in my work. It is the backdrop for my painting The Bacchae which hangs on the third floor of 45 Park Lane. I painted it in my Whitechapel Studio in the early nineties. It features two friends in conversation on the bridge.
Where are the best places to see art in London?
I’m not sure if I can specify a “best place” to see art in a city that seems so rich in art spaces. However, I always enjoy popping into the courtyard at the Royal Academy where there are lots of treats.
Christian knows my work in depth and we clicked at every choice. Gered Mankowitz
What is your favourite gallery in London?
The Great Gallery at the Wallace Collection in Marylebone. I like it so much I painted it for my Thomas van Straubenzee portrait. All the pictures and frames on the walls are so pretty.
What are your views on integrating art into public spaces?
Of course I’m all for it, but it needs to be carefully considered and curated. The more art in our lives the better.
My general philosophy is fill the world with art. I prefer art that is futuristic, classical or ones that make me laugh.
Maurizio Palermo, head bartender at BAR 45, has created five bespoke cocktails inspired by the exhibition, each created around the colour palette of the artworks. These include the ‘Electric Violet’, the ‘Cherry Rose’ and the ‘London Green’, which is a mix of Gin London No.1, a bergamot liquor Italicus, homemade basil syrup and egg white. The cocktails will be available for the duration of the exhibition from June 15 – August 5.