Randall or The Painted Grape
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Beginning in the early 1990s, Randall is a satirical alternative history of the heady years of Cool Britannia and the emergence of the Young British Artists. It asks what would have happened if Damien Hirst had never arrived? If someone else had become the most notorious and influential young British artist? And what if that someone had been more talented, more provocative, more outrageous? And far, far funnier?
raw, skinned pain, the scream beneath the skin. ‘The thing is …’ We all looked up. It was Jan de Vries. He had left his place at the rail and was standing above us. ‘The thing is, Barry,’ he said, and I see him, hand in trouser pocket, as he speaks, the other hand hanging limp at his side, ‘art doesn’t behave like that, not in the long run. It’s not a bond. Bonds don’t notice who it is that’s bought them.’ Everyone had shushed. De Vries’s expression was open and relaxed, but there was something
repair, but we played a lot of ping-pong. The table was in a sort of outhouse, dingy from the clematis that covered most of the windows, and heated by a two bar electric fire in winter. People perched on workbenches or slumped in prolapsed canvas-backed chairs, cradling cans of beer and calling out random comments. We played Clocks, mostly, where all the players go round and round the table, until they miss a shot and are knocked out. The fewer people still in, the more frenetic the circling. My
language can speak art criticism just as well as the verbal kind.’ I sat as still as possible, hands on knees, feeling smug and entirely self-contained. I forced myself to focus exclusively on the painting in front of me, letting the others fizz and pulse in my peripheral vision. I defocused my eyes, tried to make them blurrier than they already were, as if there was some fuzzy secret heart to them that could only be accessed through physical distance, or some other form of disconnection. I
for my presence there, and she gave that. There we are, around the fire, down on the foreshore. The fire doing its work. ‘I like your friends,’ Justine whispers in my ear, her arm around my back, a fleece jacket draped across her shoulders, all of us watching each other flicker in and out of visibility across the flames. Some sat on the trunks, some on the ground, leaning back against beloved or borrowed knees. Hands reaching up to rest on hands reaching down. Andrew Selden warbling away at his
impressions of him? Well, as before, my very first thought was: what a dork. Pen portrait of the unknown, pre-fame Randall: a tall, frizzyhaired, lumpen idiot of a man, too sparky and genial to be the brute you might have taken him for across the room. The hair pulled back in a pony-tail, one stud earring in the left ear. Mouth always hung slightly open, to give you a sight of the far from perfect teeth within it. Huge, grabbable nose. Oblong face with the mottled colouring of cheap meat, spam