"I visited Rupert’s studio at the beginning of 2019. It is an enchanted world of canvases, maquettes, sculptures and drawings pinned to the walls, with not a square inch left. The joy of being in the space was twofold, a chance not only to see his studio but also his new works, having last seen them in London many years before.
"For many, the concept of isolation is concerning, but for Rupert it was wonderfully peaceful. From the heights of Sacré Coeur near his studio in Montmartre, Paris felt like it belonged to the few people who had stayed behind. Unable to paint outside nor work on any projects abroad, his access to his usual art suppliers was denied, and with only left-over canvas off cuts available to paint on, this meant a much more urgent and consequently intimate approach.
"As reflected in these works, during this time, the mundane was elevated in status, becoming more precious. Shopping for essential items was a huge delight, one of the high points of the day: 'I was lucky enough to have fresh vegetables available nearby and choosing them turned into something unexpectedly engaging - and from then it seemed logical to start portraying or honouring them before cooking/consuming them,' says Rupert.
"'I was looking for new ways to portray them that would better reflect my experience. I'd always admired Juan Sánchez Cotán (1560 - 1627), the pioneer of mystical Spanish still life painting - and decided to use the same old-fashioned way of hanging vegetables to preserve them, long before fridges were invented. I added tiny figures to subvert their scale and exaggerate their presence - kind of Alice in Wonderland theatrical sets - but also combined them with anything to hand; a sardine with a pencil, asparagus wrapped in pearls, ginger with a toy car.'
"Rupert is continuing to paint his series in the deconfinement, looking for ways to engender a dialogue, to animate through association - hinting at some hidden or personal narrative, open to interpretation."