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The Shapeism Collection

Shapeism Collection: Elements and Inspirations from the recent Portrait of Tony Hancock.

As homage to the brilliant 1961 movie 'The Rebel' - Scriptwriters Ray Galton & Alan Simpson: "The best review we ever had wasn't from a critic. It was from an artist, Lucian Freud. He said that The Rebel was the greatest film ever made about modern art".

Digitally re-created and painted using state-of-the-art new digital painting techniques: The art includes the rather beautiful 'Self-Portrait' Painting (could almost be a portrait of Czar Catstick himself or perhaps a "Self-Portrait of Laurel & Hardy"?), the sublime 'Ducks in Flight' and the iconic'Foot, Twelve Inches' - Who doesn't love Twelve Inches? - all part of the 'infantile' and 'shapeist' schools of art...the colours are also shapes. Apologies also for the rather 'infantile' titles of these inspired artworks..  a fair bit of poetic and artistic license was used in re-creating this collection...

The Rebel (1961) (US title: Call Me Genius) is a satirical comedy film. Starring the British comedian Tony Hancock

Plot: Hancock plays a downtrodden London office clerk who gives up his office job to pursue full-time his vocation as an artist. Single mindedly, and with an enthusiasm far exceeding any artistic talent (his 'art' has a 'childlike' quality - to put it mildly), he sets to work on his masterpiece Aphrodite at the Waterhole, moving to Paris where he expects his genius will be appreciated. While his 'ideas' and persona gain acceptance (indeed plaudits) among the "beat" set, legitimate art critics, like Sir Charles Broward (George Sanders), scoff at his work. He manages to achieve success, however, when the work of his former roommate, a genuinely talented painter, becomes confused with his own. The confusion is eventually resolved after a series of art exhibitions, and he returns, down but not out, to London, where he pursues his 'art' in defiance of whatever others may think of it.

The film explores existentialist themes by mocking Parisian intellectual society and portraying the pretensions of the English middle class.

The film also includes scenes parodying modern art. The scene showing Hancock splashing paint onto a canvas and riding a bike over it is a lampoon of the work of Action Painter, William Green while the childlike paintings of Hancock, referred to as the 'infantile school' or the 'shapeist school' parody the naive style.

Paul Ashby: Art to me is more than inspiration, it's life itself... Every brush-stroke is torn out of my body... I'm seeking the volcanic turbulence of light and colour... I don't just paint a chair, I become the chair.
Hancock: Your colours are the wrong shape.

Mrs. Crevatte: What's this 'orrible thing?
Hancock: That, is a self-portrait.
Mrs. Crevatte: Who of?
Hancock: Who do you think? Laurel and Hardy!!
Hancock: But I’m an impressionist!
Mrs Crevatte: Well, it don’t impress me!

Whilst re-creating the Shapesim Collection for the Rebel Portrait of Tony Hancock it occurred to me that I was simply having too much fun.. here are a few of the resulting elements, images and inspirations. 


I thought would only be fair to do a few variations on the shapeist and infantile theme.. hence 'Bees in Flght', 'Hand' and 'Finger', 'Self Portrait of Ant&Dec' and even my very own 'Action Painting' called 'Eaten Mess'.. Still works in progress. Watch This Space.

The paintings for the film were executed by artist Alistair Grant in 1958, when he was a young printmaking tutor at London’s Royal College of Art. Grant’s brief was to produce three distinct groups of paintings: Hancock’s ‘infantile’ works, the dour figuration of (early) Ashby that catches the art critic’s eye and finally Ashby’s later, mature works made under the influence of Hancock’s infantile style.

Big Fat Arts Gallery London Artist Czar Catstick Affordable Pop Art Editions

Big Fat Arts Gallery London Artist Czar Catstick Affordable Pop Art Editions



Big Fat Arts Gallery London Artist Czar Catstick Affordable Pop Art Editions

Ladies and gentlemen, I shall now bid you all good day. I'm off! I know what I was cut out to do and I should have done it long ago. YOU'RE ALL RAVING MAD!! None of you know what you're looking at. You wait 'til I'm dead, you'll see I was right!

Self-critical and plagued by alcohol and marital problems, Tony Hancock committed suicide by overdose in Australia on 25th June, 1968, aged 44, leaving a note saying: "Things seemed to go wrong too many times".