Paul McCartney is undoubtedly one of the most influential musicians of all time. Not just in pop music but across the board, his career both with and without The Beatles will outlive us all and likely be a point of conversation for pop music historians for the next millennia. But what you might not know about the Liverpudlian rocker is that he has always shown a keen interest in painting too, much like his counterpart and, it turns out one of his subjects, David Bowie.
So, while we would normally focus on Macca’s incredible musical talent, today we’re looking back at his paintings and, more specifically, one of his most famous pieces; a portrait of David Bowie from 1990, ‘Bowie Spewing’. It’s not only noteworthy because of its subject, but the fact that Bowie himself was such an avid painter.
Sir Paul McCartney’s career in music is unparalleled, and it seems a bit difficult to match up any of his hobbies against his supreme songwriting talent. McCartney may not have been a particularly well-received painter, but he was certainly enthusiastic. During his downtime, when not touring or creating his high-flying albums, McCartney enjoyed picking up his brushes and let his imagination run wild or as he himself would put it, “just to let the paint lead the way.”
Roughly speaking, that means Macca would begin painting, likely as a relaxation technique, without an idea of what would happen next. It also means that often his work, though expressive, is without serious direction and therefore often sees famous faces pop up in his work.
There is room for his former wife Linda in his repertoire and images of Andy Warhol and of course, Bowie. The paintings were exhibited in Siegen, Germany in 1990 and showcased a different side of the Beatle one that, unlike his music, he was seemingly unable to perfect.
These paintings are not created with a physical subject but plucked from Macca’s mind’s eye. As such, ‘Bowie Spewing’ sees the image of Ziggy Stardust, (perhaps in relation to Linda McCartney’s Polaroid of Bowie) vomiting across the canvas as one of the most expressive moments a human can be privy to.
Without trying to bore you with the levels of consciousness that one might glean from the portrait, we would say that one of the best moments of this creation from 1990 was David Bowie’s response to the image when he first came across it.
Bowie, a keen artist himself, was asked by Paul McCartney if he was angry about the title of the piece, to which Bowie told Belgium’s Humo Magazine by responding: “Of course not, but what a coincidence, I am currently working on a song that’s called ‘McCartney Shits.'”
Though most of Paul McCartney’s paintings are completed by fan’s comments suggesting he not quite quit his day job, we think that the completion of the work is worthwhile, if only for Bowie’s retort. Take a look below at ‘Bowie Spewing’.