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John Bellany – A celebration of life

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An emotional gathering in Albiano this evening at Il Cedri – the agriturismo complex of Daniela and Leonardo Mordini, as the painter John Bellany celebrated with some of his closest friends the 20th Anniversary of his successful liver transplant. Twenty years of added life which John summed up towards the end of the night as “twenty years of J-O-Y – joy”

A surprise guest for the evening was the Scottish piper Hamish Moore, the Barga Artist in Residence 2008, who left his studio in Piazza Angelio to play a number of traditional Scottish tunes on his Scottish small pipes for John and his assembled guests.

(Hamish Moore articles are here) He had also brought his fiddle with him to play “Road to Dundee” one of the Johns favourite songs

Among the many presents given this evening was the flag of the Comune of Barga presented to a visible moved John Bellany by Simonetti Rino on behalf of the Admministrazione

Bellany's Bonjour Professor Calne, 1988. Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Collections - © 2004, BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.

Bonjour Professor Calne, the monumental painting of his operation, showing himself (or some part of him) hovering slither-eyed like an interloper between two worlds, watched over by the doctors who fought to save him, might look like a chronicle of an event, but it is not. Professor Calne was Bellany’s surgeon in real life right enough, but on the canvass he goes about his own mental business. Impenetrable, the sideways gaze of Professor Calne.

If we don’t know where the soul of Bellany has been throughout the ordeal of transplant, we find the spiritual whereabouts of Professor Calne no less a mystery. But of one thing we can be sure, he is no bit-part player in some one else’s tale. This is one of Bellany’s great gifts: he paints the absolute separateness of other lives. – Howard Jacobson

One of life’s strange coincidences – on the other side of the planet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the surgeon Sir Roy Caine, who performed a liver transplant on John Bellany 20 years ago -the resulting friendship and tutorship stimulated Calne’s ambition to depict the high-tension events of transplantation on canvas is opening an exhibition of his paintings at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. After this, the exhibition will be at Shalini Ganendra’s The Private Gallery May 9 to June 30

“I can paint what I like. If I needed to paint for a living, I would probably starve,” quipped Sir Roy, who likes a blend of bold rich colours and his style is a contemporary style. He donates the proceeds of his art exhibitions to local charity

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