Graham Sutherland studio

2RC Art printing house
Menton
Text by Valter Rossi from "La vita è segno"

For us, going to Menton was a real pleasure. For years it was an absolutely natural spring and autumn stage; it allowed us every time to find the ideal conditions to give birth to complex projects, very intriguing and provocative from a technical point of view for us, and for creative Graham.

We worked completely isolated, in a surreal atmosphere, with rhythms linked to the artist's habits. Many times, intrigued, he surprised us with his appearances, but he had to surrender to the necessary and indispensable technical times in the various passages, before reaching the press.

During the hours of waiting in that study, the eye swept one hundred and eighty degrees over the sea; I never got tired of looking at it and my mind sailed much further, in fact reaching my boat and often having the sensation of being on it.

Eleonora loved to walk in the garden where the plants were full of flowers and fruits for the great care and for the good fortune of enjoying a mild climate, in that area, even in winter.

It was there that he began to get serious about botany. His nights depended on the number of books piling up well beyond his reading pace.

We walked in that garden every day with Graham to go from his house to the studio and to return. We took a different journey each time because he tried to capture a detail of nature in contrast with the absolute beauty that surrounded us.

Then he stopped him with simple signs and references on his sketch book.

Once in his studio, he elaborated that detail by separating it from the context in which he had grasped it and placed it in a completely abstract and surreal environment with respect to the origin, from which it had been almost eradicated.

I knew from the start that Sutherland didn't want anyone in his workspace. Years earlier, in the Morlot printing house in Paris, they had equipped a part of the atelier with a curtain to separate the artist from the printers, when he was working.

This is a need that many artists have. It is necessary to be present with reserve and sensitivity, only when the artist feels the need, a moment before and not a moment later.

In this way the presence of the technician becomes indispensable and pleasant.

Graham admitted, only later, that we were the first, in his life, to be actively and positively present at the birth of one of his works.

I remember that in the long journeys from Rome to Villa Blanche with Eleonora, we tried to foresee the right way to make Graham's work with us spontaneous and pleasant.

For the artist's particular vision on the subject of “nature”, we had to leave vast spaces to the imagination. Then we had to compensate with gimmicks without leaving any doubts on the technical process so that everything was logical.