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Last Updated: Friday, 30 September 2005, 05:52 GMT 06:52 UK
Artist's 'obsession' with Dylan
Dylan Thomas as captured by Andrew Vicari
The artist has captured various stages of Dylan Thomas' life
Top Welsh artist Andrew Vicari has chosen Dubai to unveil his latest work - portraits of poet Dylan Thomas.

Mr Vicari, famous for his paintings of the Middle East, says he has become "obsessed" with Thomas in the last couple of years.

Now five different portraits of Thomas, who died in 1953, are to feature in Mr Vicari's latest retrospective.

The artist, originally from Port Talbot, said he has long had the dream of paying homage to the poet.

Five Vicari portraits of the poet will appear in an exhibition marking the opening of a new gallery in Dubai next month.

Dylan Thomas has obsessed me for the last two years and this is my way of honouring him
Andrew Vicari

The artist, who now lives in Monaco and is among the highest paid artists in the world, said he thought it was "disgraceful" how poets were not honoured in the UK until after their death.

Swansea-born Thomas died aged 39 in New York in November 1953 when he was on a speaking tour of the US.

"There may have been times when he was a bit of a prophet without honour in his homeland, but I think he can feel pleased with what he achieved in his 39 years," said Mr Vicari.

"Dylan Thomas has obsessed me for the last two years and this is my way of honouring him."

He has read 50 books on the poet and even used extracts from his work in his own speeches.

"To begin with, I thought he was just another Mumbles poet," said Mr Vicari. "Now every time I go to Mumbles I think of him and recall his poetry."

Dylan Thomas as captured by Andrew Vicari
Andrew Vicari painted the portraits from memory of meeting the poet

He said he had initially found some of Thomas' poetry "too lyrical and parochial" but he has since grown to love his imagery and use of words.

Thomas is the latest giant of Welsh cultural life to be drawn by Mr Vicari. Aneurin Bevan, Augustus John, Emlyn Williams and Stanley Baker are among those he had painted.

A triptych tribute showing Thomas as a young man, during his BBC days of Under Milk Wood, and one just before he died is in the Dubai show. Another is of the writer as Mr Vicari remembers him.

"I met Dylan once when I was studying at the Slade," he said.

Homage

"It wasn't long before his death and was at a time when his global fame hadn't reached the levels he enjoys."

The latest paintings have been done from memories, photos and reminiscences from friends who also knew Thomas.

"He was the part of the scenery of my youth," added Mr Vicari.

"During the many years I've spent working in the Middle East I've learned just how important poetry is to the people in that part of the world.

"That's why I thought it would be appropriate to unveil my homage to Dylan in Dubai."

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