daniel_lehan (daniel_lehan) wrote,

Ian Breakwell

The artist Ian Breakwell recently died of cancer.

I first came across his name, from an edition of Art Monthly which I read when I was a student. I can remember reading about his residency at a University, but cant remember whether this was at Oxford or Cambridge. He produced some enormous black and white drawings of students and the article contained some of his diary entries. Forward a considerable number of years, and I find a copy of Ian Breakwell's Diary 1964 - 1985, priced £1.50 in a secondhand shop, and this diary inspired my work I See This ... I See That ...

Another publication of his is Derby Days, in which he writes about ventriloquism, his father, and, in a piece entitled Figure Compostition Class about his pure unadulterated joy for the film The Hustler. This was the film that starred Paul Newman as Fast Eddie, and Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats, and Breakwell and his art student friend Dave enjoyed repeating, when they played pool, the dialogue between the two pool players (Fast Eddie the brash up and coming whizz kid, and Fats, for 15 years the unbeaten old pro).

Its a wonderfully warm and funny piece of writing. Later, I wrote to him proposing that he take part in a show called Hustler that I and others were intending to put together. (Sadly the show never materialized). His response was encouraging and he immediately agreed to lend a couple of early works, including one which he was prepared to bring back from his house in Ireland.

In late 2003 / early 2004 a CD collection of his readings (diary entries and stories) was published. At the launch event at the Whitechapel Art Gallery he read several pieces, including one about waiters, who, according to Breakwell are always surly, and their behaviour, however varied, always ghastly. Apparently, he worked right up to his death, continuing the diary work (the work for which he will probably be best remembered) which he began over forty years ago.
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