A DigitalNZ Story by Courtney Johnston
Dear Julian, Putting together this set has made me realise what a colourist you were. I've always thought you had an exquisite appreciation of form, but I never realised quite how amazingly you can summon a riot of colour (not just the tonal harmonies and disharmonies of the drumskins, which I know well, but the paintboxy early works, which I am less familiar with). I still miss you, you know. The last few months in particular, I have wanted to take you out, eat far too much cake, and talk to you about what's been going on. I missed your enfant terrible stage; instead, I got you when you were all grace and wisdom (and mad giggling). It would have been so good to have had that around me. I make up for this in two ways. First, by dropping you into conversation wherever possible. I am particularly fond of quoting you on the velvet paintings - both "they were all made by holding the tube and squeezing it. So I never touched or embraced the painting. I could have made them wearing three piece suits. They were like lies in terms of artistic expression or angst." and "People say my paintings are deep the way they say fat people are heavy." I have even considered the second as a tattoo - but I think it would be misconstrued. Second, I carry one of your flattened Marfa pennies with me in my jeans pockets. Every so often my fingers steal in and I touch it and I make a wish. Small wishes, not big ones - I don't want to overload the penny. But I thought you'd like to know that.