Portrait of the Lost Travelogue Writer

Continuing with our 2020 feature of images from our Steven Campbell Calendar, our March selection is:

Portrait of the Lost Travelogue Writer


This painting is a personal favourite of mine being as it is dominated by the self-portrait of Steven. Although he never deliberately set out to paint himself it was rather just an innate understanding of his own face, which he would often pass his hand over while painting.

It also has a true poetry (like Man who Climbs Maps) mixed with the ridiculous quality of a Wodehouse, Bertie Wooster scenario.

The background is dominated by 3 recognisable tourist attractions, the Pyramids/Sphinx, the Vatican and Westminster Abbey. The harlequin styled figure to the right was inspired by an old postcard Steven bought in Aix en Provence while visiting Cezanne’s studio at Jas de Bouffan.

The blue pyramid shapes were inspired by a visit to the Picasso museum in the Marais, Paris and the Las Meninas series. He took the Picasso pyramid shape and turned it around adapting it to his needs while still acknowledging the original.

The falling figure harks back to his drawing of The Fern’s revenge on the Gardener, while the optical illusion skull was inspired again by old French postcards and the work of Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin with his profiled heads forming a white vase, which do you see first?

As in all of Stevens work, we’ve come upon our protagonist midst scene, like a still from a movie where we can guess at what has passed but must make up our own script as to his future.


Carol Campbell



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