Interior at Paddington | Lucian Freud | 1951
Lucian Freud is probably one of the most important artists alive. Along with other contemporary British artists like Bacon were known as the School of London. On the contrary of other avant garde movements in the rest of Europe and North America, the British, generally expressionistic, kept the figurative representations and distance themselves from abstraction.
Particularly, Freud is known for portraying people who were closet o him: friends, relative and fellow artists. But the most interesting and fundamental of his painting is the creative process he goes through to finish each painting. To Freud, it is not enough a superficial portrait of a model, but he tries to penetrate into the essence of the person; and for that, he requires the people to pose for him for endless hours. He even demands that they would be present when he paints accessory objects, different from the main character. For Interior at Paddington, Freud kept his friend Harry Diamond posing for 6 months, changing the picture over and over again. As we may guess, like the rest of his models, Diamond became impatient and he would argue with the artist because of the long painting sessions, which stimulated Freud even more. The unbearable scrutiny they were forced to endure was defined by one of the people closed as an “omnivorous gaze” which devoured all his personality. Freud himself believes that “the task of the artist is to make human being uncomfortable”, so the psychological suffering his characters bear makes sense. At least for him.
Today’s painting shows Freud’s friend inside an apartment in the London East End next to a window and some kind of yucca in the foreground. The picture is ambiguous. There are many interpretations on its meaning, but it probably has none. Diamond seems to stare at the plant; and his right fist closed, along with the cigarette in his left hand, indicates anxiety and impatience. Except for the bright red of the carpet, the grays of the work make it depressing. Outside the window, we can look at a figure looking towards the apartment, which generates persecution fantasies; and reinforces the anxiety and the rejection generated by the painting. Freud, like this, is amazingly effective to achieve his goal: to make us feel uncomfortable.