News: The artist, the dancer and a zebra

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Choreographer Rafael Bonachela and dancer Amy Hollingsworth have been working with artist and film maker Tim Meara on a short film about one of the world’s greatest living artists – Lucien Freud.

*Small Gestures in Bare Rooms* – has been made to accompany Freud’s current retrospective – Lucian Freud, L’atelier at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, which runs from mid May until 19 July 2010.

The 15 minute film is based on several of the paintings in the exhibition, where the focus is on portraits made in the artist’s London studio. Rather than follow the usual documentary style in dealing with the life of an artist, Meara gathered reminiscences from some of the key people in Freud’s life – family and sitters – to capture the essence of the artist’s life and work through a series of filmed ‘silent portraits’.

Meara has collaborated several times with Rafael Bonachela over the last ten years and their film Muse, featuring the dancer Amy Hollingsworth, was screened at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Dance seemed an obvious choice in the evocation of the otherworldly atmosphere of Freud’s studio over the years. In a surreal sequence at the centre of the film Amy Hollingsworth appears with Freud himself – and a live zebra. It is as if she represents the memory of many characters who have passed through his studio – from Leigh Bowery, his wife and assistant Nicola Bateman and Freud’s lover Lorna Wishart – who famously once gave him the present of a stuffed zebra’s head which appeared in a number of his early works.

Meara says “Francis Wyndham selected some extracts from Flaubert’s letters which he reads in the film. He was painted reading them in Large Interior, Notting Hill (1998) which is in the Paris show. They say much of what I felt about this remarkable artist’s attitude to his painting: ‘the man is nothing, the work is everything’. Even now at the age of 87, Freud continues to live for and through his work. In making Small Gestures, I began to understand some of the alchemy that happens in the studio, when Freud literally transforms people into his subjects.”

Meara is currently working on a feature length documentary about Lucian Freud, in collaboration with David Dawson, the artist’s long time assistant.

Rafael Bonachela continues to run his own company based here in London, as well as being Artistic Director at Sydney Dance Company. Amy Hollingsworth has recently given her last performances in London and is returning to Australia to become Dance Director, alongside Bonachela in Sydney.

_*Small Gestures in Bare Rooms* _has been commissioned by Centre Pompidou and Portland Green Cultural Projects. The exhibition is ongoing – and the film will be shown in the gallery from mid May onwards. Its not known yet if the film will be screened elsewhere.
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