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The excitement for me as an artist lies not in exploring the unknown but in how I can effectively organise a visual arrangement that reflects the atmosphere and intensity of an environment, evoking a precise moment of the day under specific light and conditions. I hope you enjoy the work

Feature of the week  28/07/2019

Mona Lisa Cafe

Copyright @ Jeremy Polturak 2019


Today the Kings Road (Worlds End) part of London seems to resemble Poplar in East London. Gated apartment blocks with penthouses, a marina resplendent with colourful houseboats and sea-faring vessels standing cheek-by-jowl with Council Estates and elegant Georgian terraces. I expect that council workers breakfast at the Mona Lisa Cafe just as they did in Rene’s Cafe over 35 years ago. These days though the interior won’t be blue with the hazy smoke of cigarettes (or language) as in former times!


The main concern in this painting came down to the depiction of an interior versus exterior space; the inside as against outside subject was dominant in my mind whilst creating the work considering the dilemma between inclusion and exclusion, and as the Brexit debate raged, involving those who choose to exclude themselves as well as those excluded by circumstance; this is exemplified by the drinker sitting at the table looking across, alone and probably a smoker; likewise the dog, another outsider, purposeful in his intent yet inscrutable, and communicating with no-one else except his owners... the commissioners.


Inside are those who belong; the customers enjoying a convivial atmosphere and the bar staff each with a designated role where order rules. The danger lies outside on the pavement stretching out into the accumulating night. In my search for a solution I looked at the work of Manet and his influences, notably that of Velasquez, whose work engrossed me in the Prado three years ago, and also the English painter Micheal Andrews, whose subjects tend to stand between the mundane and the extraordinary.


Size was also significant as the not yet born picture already had a home but although quite a small canvas- 20”x24”, the subject proved quite complex as there were several elements competing for attention and settling them on the picture plane proved challenging to resolve satisfactorily.


I only very recently completed the painting. It was begun almost two years ago but it has been in conception for longer. And I rejected the more recognisable landmarks of this neck of the woods ie World’s End Pub, Chelsea Hospital, Lots Road, the Embankment and Battersea Power Station as being too obvious and an easy choice.


The Mona Lisa Cafe, where the commissioners often have breakfast, tell me they are worried about the changing ambiance of World’s End and their fear that ‘their’ cafe might be taken over by a chain. When eventually finished I was sad to part with the painting and told them cheerfully and sincerely, that if they didn’t want it, I would happily hang on to it!

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