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Thursday 8 December 2016

What lies beneath: Self Portrait by William Foyle

Self Portrait by William Foyle, oil on canvas courtesy of the artist

Niall MacMonagle

Published 11/01/2016 | 02:30

Self portrait by William Foyle.
Self portrait by William Foyle.

For George Bernard Shaw, "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." Artist William Foyle has a similar make-things-happen approach.

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Brought up in Scotland, father English/Hungarian, mother Irish, Foyle spent a lot of family time in Ireland.

"Ireland has remained in my mind, and Bacon, Le Brocquy, Jack B Yeats, Blackshaw, Roderic O'Conor have all been big influences.

"I never did well at school. I was and am very impatient and bad at sitting still, but also at being told what to do."

Dropping out of college in Edinburgh - "though not going at all would have been a mistake" - he now paints in his East London studio.

"It has a tap, no heating but I rather enjoy the feeling of being slightly on edge when one is working and my dog keeps me company."

Foyle is from a bookish and musical background and music has always been a very important part of his life.

"I can't really work without music and I've started to write on the back of my canvases what I've been listening to. I only played Janacek while painting Czech skies."

This Self Portrait, inspired by Munch and Freud's nudes, was painted three years ago when he was 20.

"I would find it impossible to do now, but at the same time self-portraiture was the easiest way to get a model and allowed me to experiment without taking up people's time."

He now works from photographs. "I used to think that painting from life was the answer to painting, but we live in a world of images and it would be stupid not to take advantage of it. One is, essentially, just a product of your time."

What drives him? "The sense of being alive and trying to pin it down somehow before time runs out or those emotions disappear, once more, into thin air."

He already has had two very successful Solo shows. Another is planned for 2016.

And for a lad who was bad at sitting still, here he stands tall, strikingly so, stands still. Impressively so.

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