x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Celebrities' artistic side

With a collection of paintings by Sid Vicious set to go under the hammer, we look at other celebrities' artistic endeavours.

Since the death of Sid Vicious in 1979, debates have raged about his level of musicianship. Now art critics can join the debate after a collection of Vicious's paintings emerged, and are set to go under the hammer in London.

The subject matter of the paintings has been causing as much discussion as the identity of the artist. It seems that Vicious, known for his, well, vicious stage presence (which include playing live with blood dribbling down his chin), had a gentler side.

The paintings up for auction include a rather incongruous buttercup. Punks shouldn't run for the hills, however, as also available is a painting of a dismembered head.

Painted as a teenager, these works are also compiled in the Sid Vicious Book of Artwork, also to be sold at the auction.

Of course, Vicious is simply continuing a tradition of musicians and actors picking up a paintbrush to display their hidden depths.

Sylvester Stallone may be best known for breaking heads in films, but his brushwork earned him his very own art exhibition in a Swiss gallery in 2009.

The images may look like multicoloured scribbles, but it earned the star a cool $90,000 (Dh330,560) when two of his paintings were sold on opening day.

Of course, for millionaire stars like Stallone, money isn't really the object, and he became fittingly philosophical when explaining his work. One painting, titled Toxic Superman, he described in the exhibition notes as "about the ups and downs of Hollywood. The US working male is a dying breed".

Other stars also use painting as an extension to the work in their respective genres. It was only in 2007 that the folk legend Bob Dylan had his first exhibition, although it had been used as album artwork as far back as the 1960s.

Dylan's artwork was displayed in a small gallery in a sleepy town just south of Berlin. Titled Drawn Blank, the exhibition included more than 150 works incorporating watercolour and gouache. Like his songs, Dylan's images derived from random snapshots, with pieces titled The Man on a Bridge and Statue of Liberty.

Dylan's art, which found him digitally enlarging his work on deckle-edge paper, was described by art critics as similar to his songwriting process, where he often tackles a single theme through different angles. Dylan credits the exhibition to the curator Ingrid Moesinger, stating she was the first person to take an interest in his artwork.

"If not for this interest, I don't know if I even would have revisited them," he said in the exhibition notes.

Other icons had to wait until death for their work to receive wide interest. In most cases the interest derives from the need to understand their demise.

In 2005, a simply rendered watercolour painting of a red rose by Marilyn Monroe was sold for $78,000 at a Los Angeles auction.

What gave the 1962 painting significance, however, was the "Happy Birthday Marilyn Monroe" message she inscribed to the former American president John F Kennedy. According to the auctioneer Darren Julian, Monroe never gave Kennedy the painting.

The Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain remains a gold mine for art collectors. As well as his guitars, diary entries, letters and sent faxes, his drawings continue to remain much sought after. In 2004, two pieces completed by a 13-year-old Cobain were sold for more than $20,000.

One was a watercolour painting of a lighthouse being slammed by a murky sea of blues and blacks. The other is a hand-drawn 80th birthday card dedicated to his grandmother.

Other musicians, such as Steven Tyler and Marilyn Manson, want you to discover their gothic artwork while they are alive, with paintings available at exhibitions and respective websites.

The most interesting, however, belongs to the soft-rocker Bryan Adams. A look at his personal photography website reveals a series of edgy photos taken in a grungy apartment.

Now, if only his songs had as much bite.