Friday, September 16, 2011

My hero / Lucian Freud by Esi Edugyan

My hero: Lucian Freud

'I find myself deflated, and moved, and grateful, all at once'

Esi Edugyan
Friday 16 September 2011

t was in Holland that I first encountered Lucian Freud's paintings in the flesh. And I mean in the flesh. Freud's use of paint, his remarkable relishing of the human form, the unbearable beauty and sense of time passing, of ageing itself, all stopped me in my tracks. I couldn't look away. I didn't look away.

Artists – whether painters, writers or composers – often seem to doubt the efficacy of art more than anyone else. I'd been doubting the decisions in my life, the intensity of effort required for the writing of a novel, wondering what impact the art itself might make. But standing before that Freud painting, something in the physical construction on the canvas, the weight of all that paint, made me feel hollowed out. There was nothing lonely in the work itself, but the presence of a figure clearly absent led me back into myself. It was a disturbing experience, a visceral one. At the time, it affirmed something for me about art and what it is that makes us who we are.
Born in Berlin, Freud fled the Third Reich with his family and ended up in London at an early age. His personality was, by all accounts, a difficult one – a man troubled and left uneasy by his own abilities as much as by his limitations. Or so I've found myself imagining. But it's the paintings that I return to, again and again. The privilege of experiencing the human form through his dissecting eyes and fingertips. That altered way of seeing. I find myself deflated, and moved, and grateful, all at once, whenever I get the chance to see through his eyes a little of what he saw.
Esi Edugyan's Half Blood Blues has been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize 2011.

001 My hero / Oscar Wilde by Michael Holroyd
002 My hero / Harley Granville-Barker by Richard Eyre
003 My hero / Edward Goldsmith by Zac Goldsmith
004 My hero / Fridtjof Nansen by Sara Wheeler 
005 My hero / Mother Mercedes Lawler IBVM by Antonia Fraser
006 My hero / Ted Hughes by Michael Morpurgo (KISS)

007 My hero / Ernest Shepard by Richard Holmes
008 My hero / JG Ballard by Will Self
009 My hero / Alan Ross by William Boyd
010 My hero / Ben the labrador by John Banville

011 My hero / Vicent van Gogh by Margaret Drabble
012 My hero / Franz Marek by Eric Hobsbawm


036 My hero / Rober Lowell by Jonathan Raban (Kiss)
035 Patti Smith by Joseph O'Connor
038 My hero / Charles Schulz by Jenny Colgan

041 My hero / David Linch by Paul Murray
042 My hero / Edwin Morgan by Robert Crawford (KISS)
058 My hero / Cy Twombly by Edmund de Waal


087 My hero / Alberto Moravia by John Burnside
095 My hero / Les Murray by Daljit Nagra (KISS)
096 My hero / Isaac Babel by AD Miller
097 Lucian Fred by Esi Edugyan
100 My hero / Tomas Tranströmer  (Kiss)


120 My hero / Graham Greene by Richard Holloway
134 My hero / Homer by Madeline Miller
146 My hero / Roald Dahl by Michael Rosen 

167 My hero / Oliver Sacks by Hilary Mantel
169 My hero / Jean Rhys by Linda Grant
176 My hero / Mae West by Kathy Lette
181 My hero / Lydia Davis by Ali Smith
184 My hero / Louise Bourgeois by Tracey Emin
185 My hero / Albert Camus by David Constantine
190 My hero / Iris Murdoch by Charlotte Mendelson
194 My hero / René Descartes by James Kelman
199 My hero / Albert Camus by Geoff Dyer

211 My hero / Mavis Gallant by Jhumpa Lahiri and Michael Ondaatje
219 My hero / William Shakespeare by Susan Cooper
222 My hero / Emily Brontë by Lucasta Miller
227 My hero / Salman Rushdie by Antonia Fraser
233 My hero / Robin Williams by Anne Fine
244 My hero / Jim Shepard by Joshua Ferris

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