Researching and recreating the practices first established by Andy Warhol, London-based artist Paul has dedicated the last decade to creating After Warhol.
Rarely has such a faithful rendering of an artist’s methodology been established with the rigour and diligence that we see in After Warhol. Paul Stephenson’s odyssey into the world of Warhol began in 2010 when he purchased a collection of the artist’s original acetates. His ensuing collection – created in collaboration with one of Warhol’s original master printers, Alexander Heinrici – has been lauded both by the BBC and VICE Magazine.
When asked about the debate surrounding the authorship of these works, Paul says: “I like the idea of turning the art world upside down, I think Andy liked it too.” Quite so; Warhol was known for subverting accepted practices and challenging the old guard stance taken by the art world. He was unashamedly open about his hands-off approach, often not engaging with his art beyond the initial stage of working with the acetates directly. Such was his candour, he named his studio ‘The Factory’. There, others would print the pieces for him, and famously even sign art on his behalf. Warhol was quoted as saying: ‘I want other people to make my paintings … I think somebody should be able to do all my paintings for me.’
Arguably, Paul feels more strongly invested in replicating each stage of Warhol’s practice with unwavering conviction than the artist himself would have deemed necessary. From travelling far and wide to source the same canvases and pigments for After Warhol and working alongside Alexander Heinrici. Paul’s efforts were rewarded when the world’s leading Warholian authority, Professor Rainer Crone stated: ‘These are fantastic, they are in Warhol’s concept… In my expertise [sic] opinion paintings made with these film positives under described circumstances and executed posthumously by professionals (scholars as well as painters) are authentic Andy Warhol paintings.’
Journeying between his home in London and the busy streets of New York has become the norm for Paul, as he has spent the last decade working with one of Andy Warhol’s own master printers to turn his original acetates (film positives) into ‘posthumous Warhols’, as identified by leading Warholian expert Rainer Crone.
Infamous for his own appropriation and repurposing of iconic images, we can only speculate that the Pop Art founder would approve of Paul’s works, which have been created using the same technique and materials. In his quest for authenticity, Paul tracked down the paints – some dating back to the 70s and 80s – that Warhol used to a little shop in London (rumoured to be Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for the Ollivanders wand shop).
Alongside Alexander Heinrici, Paul has brought Warhol’s original acetates to life. Bought at an auction in London and authenticated by the Andy Warhol Museum, these items are the last materials to have been worked on by Warhol by hand before the mechanical process of silkscreen printing began. Faithfully following Warhol’s method, Paul blew up the original acetate before transferring the image to a larger canvas and using a squeegee to press the inks through a screen. You can find out more about the silkscreen printing process here.
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