Painting of the Month, November 2015
Continuing with our Painting of the Month series, Carol Campbell discusses, Untitled (Gaviscon Series).
This painting shows a kneeling figure with arms outstretched. I would on looking at it now, see it very clearly as a self portrait, and certainly the Gaviscon images are deeply personal and relate directly to the self diagnosed ulcer Steven believed himself to be suffering from, while in reality it was pain from his appendix.
The yellow boat comes from a painting by the Scottish colourist George ‘Leslie’ Hunter, Steven loved the original.
Returning to the other details, most especially the Gaviscon, Steven viewed this as a symbol of self and actually took a bottle with him to Cezanne’s studio at Jas de Bouffan on the outskirts of Aix en Provence. Steven adored Cezanne, considering him the greatest of all painters and by positioning the bottle around the studio on chairs, tables, beside bowls of fruit etc and secretly taking photographs (as photography within the studio is forbidden) felt he had in some way a connection to the man and the place.
The books tumbling down represent years of study both of art and literature cut through with darker thoughts represented by the open razors. The floating figure could be read as either attempting suicide or as a survivor.