1988, and William S Burroughs is in town for the Launch of his paintings @ The October Gallery…
I’ve just finished typing up the recently recovered Notes I made at the time, including an informal ‘interview’ as he gave me a guided tour of his work – here’s a taste:
Would you say that Brion was your main influence as a painter?
Oh definitely… It was Brion who first taught me how to really see painting – and there were various things with him… drawings… collages, calligraphy – and all the material that went into the scrapbooks, but also The Third Mind.
And anybody else? Other inspirations?
We-e-elll… I very much like the Old Dutch Masters, Van Gogh, but they don’t have much to do with all this… Inspiration? Hmm… There’s Klein of course, Yves Klein. Hieronymous Bosch. And I like Klee very much – “The Artist renders visible” he said – also Jasper Johns. And Pollock, who was a more careful artist than people realise – but he allowed things to happen – and you know yourself how important it is to be ‘open’, to be prepared… What is that saying, about so-called ‘chance’?
“Chance favours the prepared observer”? (Pasteur)
That’s it! Yes! Precisely… it’s all about… being prepared. These techniques – dripping, spraying, what you get with the shotgun blasts – they’re all about introducing a random factor, the nagual, right? You know about the nagual, yes? Castaneda… But at the same time you don’t just leave it there – I work on a picture with brushes, stencils. You don’t just leave it to chance…
And “how random is random” anyway?
Sure, sure… To me, inspiration – or what some people might call ‘genius’ – is the nagual: the uncontrollable – unknown and so unpredictable – spontaneous and alive. You could say the magical.
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[ Once again, Thank You to Emma Doeve for her advice & encouragement, and to Raoul V for access to his invaluable Archive, wherein these original Notes - thought lost! - were rediscovered, and for his continuing support. ]