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El Sid -SOLD

El Sid -SOLD

By John Thompson


Original artwork

Pen and ink on paper


Framed size: H: 68cm x W: 52cm

Note: this image is not quite accurate but the best available, pre-glass and framing - the paper is actully much more white and the black ink far more distinct



Movement and merriment are the primary forces in this bizarre scene of strolling seaside entertainers with their giant ice-cream cornet.


The title is a satiricial version of El Cid, the legendary Spanish military leader and national hero.


The puppet figures are based on Sicilian-style puppetry (Pupi Siciliani) and date back to the popular epic theatre of the nineteenth century, which developed and spread in Naples, Rome and Sicily and starred Charlemagne and his knights.


Each pupo typically represented a specific paladin (medieval knight), identified by the armour and the cloak.


The overall figures and their antics are drawn from John's theatrical roots and they have more than an air of stage play and performance about them, coupled with a delight in costume, choreography and satire.


John loves narrative and weaves together the cameos and figures to make a continuous whole. His cartoon-like illustrative style has all sorts of visual echoes, ranging from Alice Through the Looking Glass to Ralph Steadman and even Aubrey Beardsley.


    John studied fine Art at Gloucestershire College of Art and Design, Cheltenham specialising in Sculpture. His postgraduate qualification was at the University of London and he also completed a Theatre Design course of the English National Opera. Theatre and performance have remained a strong pulse  in all he creates.

    He was an assistant designer at The Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre and won the Arts Council Award for Theatre Design in 1976.

    Later, he worked for many years as a freelance production designer for film and television and, latterly, at the BBC. He is also an associate member of The Society of Graphic Fine Art.

    "My visual influences and interests range from Titian, Caravaggio, Rembrandt and the Old Masters to Ralph Steadman, collage artist Cold War Steve, 1980s 'art star'Jean-Michel Basquiat and the photo montages of Peter Blake. 

    "A single theme that runs through all my work is narrative, either a proposed story or title or an enigmatic conversation that arrives through a random collection of figures and objects which creates its own internal drama. Inspiration can come from a single word or sentence to a paragraph written by Dickens."

    Among other places, John has exhibited at The Mall Galleries with both the Society of Graphic Fine Art and the Royal Watercolour Society, He is based in the South Cotswolds, near Tetbury, where he lives with his artist wife Trish and small dog. 

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