Vic Reeves’ suit may have upstaged his art. Despite atmospheric twilight, he insisted on the flash when I took his portrait. It turned out to be interwoven with reflective hi-vis strands…
I had come to see the on-the-wall artistic output of a comedian often described as ‘off it’. Where Eagles Tremble is a series of canvases illustrating the one page fiction of Alan Todd, ‘athletic’ 4’5” tall, World War II obsessed film star.
The venue is Mews of Mayfair, a bijou former clothes boutique annexed to the glamorous restaurant, cocktail bar and lounge. The inherited mottled sky ceiling of the Indica-like space complimented the vigorous, somewhat childlike paintings of airborne planes, although enduring cubicle fittings looked peculiar.
According to organisers Eyestorm, Reeves (whose real name is Jim Moir) has always been primarily an artist, having studied it in the mid ‘80s. Several attendees assured each other that the paintings, including Return to Gayport, Scum and The Puff were ‘very Vic’. But what does that mean? According to the PR bumf, it gives licence to be ‘playfully deranged’ and ‘sublimely absurd’, or ‘Spike Milligan without the genius’ as my friend preferred to put it.
My favourite painting was actually hidden in a corridor. I wouldn’t have seen it if someone hadn’t opened the door, thwacking one of the curators in the process. Unlike the majority, it was free from an on canvas subtitle. A slightly over-cropped, sausage fat fuselage felt particularly present and comical, with details picked in a distinctive red.
Whilst likeable, these paintings (which could be yours from £1500) are never going to be as surreal as his life, which reads remarkably. His mother was an amateur medium. He buried his vintage Austin. Playgirl offered him £250,000 for a nude centrefold. With Dizzy, he had a number one single. He recently recorded a programme about tweed. And he is – irony aside – a keen ornithologist, reflected in an earlier artistic commission.
The surreal is always a welcome temptation, especially in murky economic times. Ultimately however, these canvases have the feel of albeit very large postcards. They lack the spirit of surprise, poise and fantastically peculiar authorship that I would associate with Reeves (and his dazzling suit).
See Where Eagles Tremble until Wednesday 29 April at:
Mews of Mayfair
New Bond Street
Tel: 020 7518 9388