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Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie
oil on canvas
50 x 60 cm
private collection

Salman Rushdie
charcoal, mud and pastel on paper
70 x 55 cm
Ashmolean Museum

I almost know Salman Rushdie better as a fearsome table-tennis opponent than as a man of letters and our sittings took place in the framework of encounters over the ping-pong table. Nothing involving Salman can of course be quite straightforward and our encounters (at a necessarily unspecified location) were hedged about with the protocol of high security.

The first portrait shows the writer in the midst of my dream of his dreams of India and London. This occupied a dozen or so sittings over a period of almost a year. The second picture was a very straightforward head and shoulders image concluded in about four hours. This in turn formed the basis of a lithograph whose cuneiform inscription comes from a poem written not far from the place where the fatwa was announced. Five thousand years ago the Mesopotamian author wrote that we cannot tell what blasphemy is 'since we do not know what the Gods think and feel'.

After two attempts at etchings I made a final lithograph in which Salman is equated with Dreyfus. He wears a (ficitious) T-shirt inscribed with the cryptic name 'Jack Hughes' to echo Zola's famous accusation.

Many of these images were also incorporated into Merely Connect, a book I made while artist-in-residence at Harvard's Carpenter Center, on which Salman collaborated at a distance.

Sacred and Profane / Drawing to a Conclusion (1997),  p. 20

See a related print in the Editions section.