Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 16:24 UK

Painter completes zero-G artwork

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Azam and two other artists spent just over two hours in the air on Tuesday

By Neil Smith
BBC News entertainment reporter

British painter Nasser Azam has said he is "ecstatic" after completing two sets of artwork in zero gravity.

The 44-year-old climbed 23,000 feet in a specially modified plane to work on two large triptychs while weightless.

The flight took a series of dramatic climbs and dives that allowed Azam to experience short bursts of "zero-G".

"It far exceeded my expectations," he told the BBC News website from the Russian cosmonaut facility Star City, north-east of Moscow.

"The biggest apprehension was that I would fall ill and wouldn't be able to do anything.

'Impractical'

"But the fact is I managed to do quite a bit of work on all six paintings," he continued.

Eleven artists originally signed on for the Life In Space project, but after intensive training and medical tests only three were able to make the flight.

Azam said he was the only one to complete the journey on the so-called "vomit comet" without becoming queasy.

Nasser Azam
Azam is artist-in-residence at London's County Hall gallery
"The only explanation I can think of is I was concentrating on painting," he said. "I think it helped me not even think about being sick."

"Maybe I should become a cosmonaut," joked the artist following Tuesday's hour-long trip.

He did admit, though, that the first of the 15 parabolic cycles came as "a complete shock to the body".

"It's one of those things you can't know what it's like until you experience it."

According to Azam, one of the objectives of the project was to "create art in impractical places".

"Obviously it was impractical," he said. "But it was also fun and enjoyable, as well as being a first."

Expedition

The painter plans to display his works, entitled Homage to Francis Bacon, at the County Hall gallery in central London where he is artist-in-residence.

The prospect of the pieces fetching a sky-high price, however, has not enticed him to put them on the market.

Azam, who until recently was chief operating officer at investment bank Merrill Lynch, said he is contemplating a follow-up expedition to Antarctica.

"But that would be a much longer trip," he adds. "I don't know if we'd be able to be in such cold weather for two weeks."


SEE ALSO
Painter prepares for art in space
07 Jul 08 |  Entertainment

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