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Friday, 29 September, 2000, 06:03 GMT 07:03 UK
McCartney art makes UK debut
Sir Paul McCartney
Abstract art: Sir Paul started painting when he was 40
The first UK exhibition of Sir Paul McCartney's art work has opened in Bristol.

The 58-year-old singer has been painting since he was 40, but he has only exhibited his work once before, in Germany last year.

Featuring a selection of the 500 canvasses he has painted, the exhibition, at the Arnolfini Gallery, coincides with the publication of a book on his art.

Speaking on the eve of the exhibition's opening, Sir Paul said he had always wanted to be an artist, and felt he had missed out on formal training in his teenage years.

"I always liked drawing as a kid and I liked the idea of painting but I felt there was some sort of reason why I shouldn't, because I hadn't been trained, because I hadn't been to art college, because I was just a working class person," he said.

Abstract art

Sir Paul recounted how a conversation with US artist Willem de Kooning prompted him to pick up palette and brushes.

Willem de Koonig
Willem de Kooning, abstract artist who inspired Sir Paul, died in 1997
While looking at one of the late painter's works Sir Paul asked de Kooning: "At the risk of appearing gauche, what is it, Bill?"

De Kooning, an abstract expressionist, replied: "I dunno, looks like a couch, huh?"

"I thought his painting looked like a purple mountain and he thought it looked like a couch, but the fact that he said that it didn't matter what it was just freed me," Sir Paul said.

Spat with Lennon

The exhibition coincides with the recent re-publication of an interview fellow Beatle John Lennon gave to Rolling Stone magazine in 1970.

Lennon attacks Sir Paul in the interview, but the musician pointed out that it came when the band members were going through their worst crisis.

John Lennon
John Lennon: Interview 'hurt a lot at the time' according to Sir Paul
"It hurt a lot at the time but we got back together as friends and he is on record as saying a lot of that slagging off he gave me was really just him crying for help," Sir Paul said.

"He could have been boozed out of his head, as he was during that period, he could have been crazed on this, that or the other substance.

"But we did get very friendly, and he did tell me that a lot of those things he said he didn't mean.

"I was very lucky in as much as before he got killed we were able to tell each other we loved each other," he added.

See also:

18 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Top of the Pops' Lennon tribute
25 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Lennon's killer speaks out
15 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Beatles hit the dancefloor
06 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Unseen Beatles art on show
07 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Unique Beatles recording lost
15 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Stars sketch to save squirrels
08 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Sir Paul in line for BBC award
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