Themes and inspirations

Small details from three paintings

From left to right: Beach towels, 1990, The kiss, 1988, Yellow celt, 1994

"Some of these faces might as well be landscapes because a lot of the time all I want to do is apply paint . sometimes just putting on the paint is more interesting than actually thinking what it all means" - Sir Paul McCartney

For Paul, much of his painting is to do with process - the application of the paint, the colours and textures evolving into composition. Many of the themes and titles are accidental and inspired by what happens on the canvas, particularly those of people.

He talks about Andy Warhol and John Lennon 'appearing' in his paintings. His 'Bowie spewing' came as the result of paint dripping down the canvas, when he noticed it looked like Ziggy Stardust.

Linda McCartney - or the essence of Linda - is the inspiration behind several of the paintings in the exhibition. In 'Yellow Linda with piano', her blonde hair and yellow top determines the theme, with all of the furniture and objects also painted in yellow. The same vibrant shades appear in 'Linda yellow red cross', where Linda is depicted with a red cross, a heart and a castle. She was also the influence for 'Large yellow face'.

Painting of a man and a woman in profile kissing

Works like 'Brains on fire', 'Sea god' and 'Three blue faces in red sky' combine the figurative and the abstract to evoke intense and powerful presences. There is a strong Celtic theme running through many paintings, influenced by Paul's enthusiasm for the ancient and his own Celtic (Irish) roots.

Paul's landscapes are infused with light and colour. Remote beach scenes like 'Red triangle sand' and 'Beach towels' are motivated by Paul's time on Long Island. The theme of big open spaces recurs in his Arizona landscapes. As a man who has lived his life in the public eye, solitude is evidently inspirational and these pictures project a great sense of liberty and joy.