Norm Profile: Norm in the Jungle
Continuing my introduction to the Norms which I painted in the past, and expanding further upon the (variably) tropical theme of my Spanish season, the next Norm stepping into the limelight is Norm in the Jungle. This was the first Norm I ever painted. I gave him as a gift to my grandmother who always adored him, and continues to enjoy him still.
I’m not sure why I chose the jungle as the backdrop to my first Norm. I’ve always been drawn to the idea of a jungle, as I have been to forests with their dark creepy corridors between trees, naturally sheltered by the canopy of vast tree tops and low hanging luscious flowers and furry palms. I think I can identify two sources of inspiration for this fascination. Firstly the stories of the Moomins written and illustrated by Tove Jansson which I was obsessed with as a child. Through her vivid descriptions and beautiful illustrations, she really conjured the idea of a magical midnight forest, full of little creatures hiding under the trees, each plant and crag and corner being imbued with a sense of mystery and adventure.
The second influence is the art of Henri Rousseau. I adore Rousseau. He’s a great inspiration to me, first and foremost because, like me, he was a self-taught artist, and that lack of teaching can really be seen in the wonderful naivety of his art, as it can be in the work of other self-taught masters such as Frida Kahlo and Van Gogh. Thus in his work there is none of the pretention of a taught artist, but a vivid, often childlike imagination illustrated through wonderful scenes of jungle animals and full and voluptuous vegetation. My favourite work is probably “Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surprised!)” which we are lucky enough to have hanging in London’s National Gallery free for all to see. All of his jungle works have the power to transpose their audience to the tropics… which is amazing since Rousseau never went to the tropics himself. He actually sought inspiration for his jungle scenes from the Jardin des Plantes in Paris!
Well, Norm in the Jungle was painted a long time ago (in 2005), and as I hope to show you later this week with the exclusive unveiling of four new Norm paintings, the Norms have come on a lot since. But my obsession with jungles and plants remains still. Here is a painting I did in the summer, also out here in Spain, called “Paseo Banus”. A pure celebration of the wonderful plants which grow habitually out here in Andalucía.