Tuesday, 9 November 2010
Vyner Street Gallery Opening - Rodolphe
It's one of those "you had to be there" moments but I'll share it with the world regardless... Distractedly nursing my complimentary beverage at a fashionable East London vernissage when this apparition ambled into my peripheral view. While on assignment to document the young trendy things of the Hackney art orbit this chap shuffled in insouciantly amongst all the quirky outfits and asymmetrical haircuts in his geography teacher garb. The word shuffle is more than apt: a sort of Chaplin meets Jacques Tati shamble of torso swaying, arms flailing and feet scuffling.
His outfit was equally idiosyncratic: a monochromatic melange of rusty corduroys and second hand jacket and tie; the hair all over the place, John Lennon specs crooked and old - a near-cliche of an "artiste" as cooked up on the drawing boards of a 1950s Hollywood art department. YET it all worked! He inhabited those clothes like they were an extension of his personality. They were him. He looked comfortable and contended - precisely my definition of what effortless personal style is about. So, amongst all the sartorial desperation on display in the room he ended up being the most stylish of them all.
But there was something else about the fellow that's been nagging me ever since. An old fashioned, old world, mittel-europaisch air of naturalness, affability AND melancholy - a combination which I've always found most alluring and attractive. There was a Prince Myshkin innocence in his gait, voice and mannerisms that intrigued me infinitely, therefore I had to talk to the man.
He was indeed an artist with a central European background but British. He was open, curious, charming and tactile - with a tinge of sadness in his voice. (I'm obviously projecting...) And to top it all off he had the bohemian name of all bohemian names: Rodolphe! (No, not making this up.)
This fascination with the chap kept playing with my head for days. I just couldn't put my finger on what was so familiar about him: have I met him before (perhaps in my, erm, previous life), was he in fact only a figment of my imagination, was he a literary character - was HE Prince Myshkin?!!
The answer came - as a huge relief - the following week in my local gazette. See picture bellow:
(courtesy of The Guardian)
OF COURSE!!! How could I miss it?! Rodolphe is a Chekhovian character, a Trofimov out of the Cherry Orchard, an anachronism in our Topshop-yfied/X Factor dominating/false-optimism obsessed times...and we can only be thankful for his eccentric but earthy presence...
(We don't want to appear petty here, but for authenticity's sake we should point out that the resemblance is to the Trofimov played by Anthony Flannagan in the Birmingham Rep's latest staging of the play)
Posted by Say No To FACION at 11:01